Onions in fall make for a fine pizza

For this lover of autumn, there's a color that represents the season as clearly as a date on the calendar.

It's a soft, fuzzy gold, like glimmering waves of heat drifting up from a distant beach, a gentle and alluring image that reflects the welcome pulling-up on the hand-brake of summer's wild ride.

Even kitchen activities have a different feeling and are accomplished at a more leisurely pace. And although there's not quite the vast array of August bounty to fill the produce bins, there are still many offerings, including the tail end of the sweet- and hot-pepper crop, an impressive array of tomatoes and potatoes and a new collection of onions.

The sweet-tempered onion varieties of summer are dwindling, of course. The heartier, more robust onions that replace them will take us through winter until the fresh sweet onions of spring come again. It was these storage onions that I was using one weekend back in the mid-90s when developing recipes for my cookbook, "The Onion Book," (Doubleday, 1996).

I thought I was being quite original and daring when I set out to create a masterful pizza made entirely from a glorious mound of caramelized onions and herbs. Then I stumbled upon Georgeanne Brennan's Pissaladiere in her beautiful cookbook, "Potager."

It called for 15 onions. Of course, my pizza was not a pissaladiere. To be so named, it would have to contain anchovies, because "pissala" means "a puree of tiny, salted and fried anchovies and sardines," eaten in Nice, France. The fish are traditionally mixed with the cooked onions before spreading them onto rolled-out bread dough. You will not, I guarantee, find a single anchovy lurking in the following recipe.

My Pizza With Caramelized Onions, Olives and Herbs is the perfect summer-into-fall offering. It tastes equally delightful on the deck at sunset or on the couch during moving night.

Variations abound.

If you want to change this pizza up a bit, and you've got some Roma tomatoes on hand, then add a few slices to the pizza right on top of the caramelized onions and under the cheese. Also, feel free to add sprinklings of other cheeses before baking. Or perhaps a few other herbs, or even a bit of cooked sausage or sliced mushrooms. Just don't go crazy, because you don't want to overwhelm the theme of this pizza — onions. So enjoy!

E-mail janrd@proaxis.com.

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