Grilled Vidalia Onion Salad

My mom made this salad the weekend before I went to Japan. Mother’s Day Weekend. Yes, that’s right. I’m the kind of daughter who lets my mother do all the cooking on Mother’s Day. Okay, now that that’s out of the way …

When she said she was making an onion salad to go with dinner, I can’t say I started salivating right away. But as she described it using words like caramelized onions, shaved Parmesan cheese, and perfectly balanced flavors I knew this was something I’d have to blog about. So here it is: Grilled Vidalia Onion Salad. The sweetness of the onions + the acidity of the lemons+ the fruitiness of the olive oil + the saltiness of the cheese + the slight bitterness of the watercress  = the perfect salad. I like mine with homemade croutons. They add a nice crunch to an otherwise soft salad. Don’t buy them ready-made. They’re simple to make and so SO much better than store-bought. Just fry cubes of crusty bread in a little cooking oil and drain on paper towels.

All you need for this salad is a good quality, fruity olive oil, watercress, Vidalia onions, lemons, and a nice block of Parmesan Reggiano cheese. If you want croutons, you’ll also need cooking oil and some bread.

First, slice the onion into 3/4″ thick pieces. There’s no need to take the skin off at this point. Then, arrange them on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Brush them generously with olive oil on both sides.

And season them with salt and pepper on both sides.

Broil them in the oven until they look like this. Flip them over, and broil them again until both sides match.

Remove the blackened skin and set aside to cool.

Then put the salad together. It goes a little something like this: watercress, onions, cheese, salt and pepper, and (optionally) croutons. When you eat it, be sure to get each layer in every bite. It’s worth the effort. And it’ll stop you from hoovering it down in 2.5 seconds. I refer to it as the Ladymaker Salad. No I don’t.


  • 2-3 large Vidalia onions
  • 2 bunches of watercress, washed and dried, course stems removed
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. good quality olive oil
  • 4 oz. (ish) Parmesan Reggiano, shaved with vegetable peeler
  • 2-3 slices of crusty bread, cubed and deep fried until golden, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat broiler
  • Slice onions into rings about 3/4″ thick
  • Generously brush both sides of each onion slice with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Arrange in one layer on foil-lined baking sheets that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray
  • Broil onions approximately 6″ from heat source until onions begin to blacken
  • Flip onions and repeat broiling process
  • Remove blackened skin from onions and cool until ready to use
  • Place watercress on large serving platter
  • Separate onions into individual rings and add to watercress
  • Add lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and toss lightly
  • Top with croutons and enjoy



4 thoughts on “Grilled Vidalia Onion Salad

  1. Fiona -I really enjoyed your recipes, photos and commentary! The lemon curd is very tasty on toast, just like you said. Are you planning a cookbook?….Keep up the good work…..Carol

    1. Thanks, Carol! I like lemon curd too. I wish I could do a cookbook, but I can’t cook. I just follow recipes. Is there such thing as an eatbook? I’d be good at that.

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