Pear and Red Onion Gratin

1 large red onion
3 cups Bosc pears
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup coarse whole wheat dry breadcrumbs — (see note)
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fill a large bowl three-quarters full with water; add a handful of ice cubes. Cut onion into 16 wedges, place in a strainer and lower into water. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Halve and core each pear; cut each half into 6 slices. Drain the onion wedges well and place them in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish along with the pear slices, 1 Tbsp oil, thyme, salt and a grinding of pepper; toss to combine. Cover with foil.

Roast for 30 minutes, stirring twice.

Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs and cheese in a small bowl. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; stir to combine. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the gratin, return to oven and roast until breadcrumbs are well browned, 20 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8, as a side dish

NoteTo Make Your Own Breadcrumbs: Trim crusts from firm whole-grain sandwich bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice makes about 1/3 cup. Spread breadcrumbs onto a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry and crispy, about 15 minutes.


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