Monday, September 2, 2013

Cheesy Warm Vidalia Onion Dip

Cheesy Warm Vidalia Onion Dip
A hot dip made with pepper jack cheese, mayonnaise and sweet Vidalia onions, topped with more cheese, buttery Ritz cracker crumbs and garnished with bacon.

Cheesy Warm Vidalia Onion Dip

You've probably noticed that Vidalia onions are a little smaller now than they were earlier in the season, an indication that the season is winding down and will soon be over until next spring.

There are a variety of ways to preserve Vidalias, with chopping and freezing a favorite for onions intended for cooking. Bag one chopped onion at a time, or chop them all and flash freeze first on a baking sheet before storing in a large freezer bag, keeping them loose and separate.

A popular way to help store them raw, is to hang them whole in a cool, dry area, away from light, tucked into the leg of an old, clean pair of hosiery. A pantry, or the storage closet underneath your staircase are great spots. Knot in between each onion to keep them separated and where air will circulate around them and they will keep for a long time too.

If you have room in your refrigerator, they will last whole for several months, which can carry you through much of the winter season. Wrap each onion individually in paper towels and store in the produce drawer.

I'm still always sad to see the fresh ones go though, because while other sweet onions are always available during the year, and I sure use them, they just aren't the same as a sweet Vidalia. If you live outside of the southeast, you probably have a regional sweet onion you love the best, but for those of us in this region, Vidalia onions from Georgia are the best sweet onion in town.

If you love a good onion dip like I do, I think you'll also enjoy this cheesy, hot version made with those sweet onions. I've been known to make a half batch of this dip for no particular reason other than I wanted it, and... I may or may not consume every single ounce of it all by myself with a bunch of corn chips.

It's super easy to make and is a great addition to any party menu, including those football and tailgating events. Vidalia onions are required though, or whatever sweet onion is best for your region of the country, so please don't substitute white or yellow onions and expect the same results. Of course, when those Vidalia onions are out of season, substitute the sweet onions you can find.

Here's how to make it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray a shallow 1-1/2-quart casserole dish. Cook 4 slices of bacon and set aside to cool, then chop.

In a large bowl, blend together 2-1/2 cups of chopped Vidalia onion, 2 cups of mayonnaise, and 2 cups of shredded pepper jack cheese and a little Cajun seasoning, if you like. I do. Set aside 1/2 cup of the cheese for the top. You can use other cheeses too - I just happen to like the heat from the pepper jack with the sweet onion.

Mix well and transfer to prepared baking dish. I divided the dip between these two cast iron servers {affil link} but anything roughly around 1-1/2 quarts will work - a deep dish pie plate or even an 8 x 8 inch baking pan. I like this in the cast iron because it keeps the dip hotter, but that's something to keep in mind too if you're serving this around other folks. Cast iron is hot!

Spread the dip out but don't pack it down too much.

Top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese.

Crumble 1/2 package of Ritz crackers and sprinkle them on top.

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until bubbly and light golden brown on top.

Garnish with crumbled bacon and let rest for 5 minutes before serving warm with crackers or pita, bagel, tortilla or corn chips, my personal favorite. Place casserole dish on a warming tray to keep warm, although this dip is quite good at room temperature also.

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Posted by Mary on September 2, 2013
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