I received a basket of enormous, homegrown onions from a family friend. Layers of thick dirt muted the rich golden tones of the onions. Each one had just been picked and a mass of dried out, dusty stalks, like wild hair, was sprouting from the bulbs. I wasn’t sure what to do with so many onions until I read this week’s Torah portion, Matot Massei. I prepared a simple roasted onions side dish. These concentric circles of onion are delicate, rich in flavor and easy to prepare.

This week I offer a couple of different thoughts about the onions and how the dish relates to themes in the parsha.

Transformation from Bitter to Sweet

Raw onions are an intense, visceral flavor. They can overwhelm a dish and make one cry when cutting them. Roasted onions, though, are transformed into a sweet, delicate dish. This is like the Israelites journey from the bitterness of Egypt to the sweetness of the Promised Land.

Tabernacle and G‑d at the Center

The concentric circles of the onions also represent the placement of the tabernacle at the center of each camp the Israelites made in the wilderness.


  • 4 large yellow onions
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Trim the ends of the onions but keep skins on. Wipe skins to remove dirt. Place onions on a tray. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Roast for approximately one hour, until soft inside. Remove from oven. Peel skin off before serving. Save the sweet liquid run-off from the onions in the pan. Scoop it up and drizzle over the tops of each one. Option to add salt and pepper to taste.

Reprinted with permission from Neesh Noosh.