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This wild onion has an even wilder story. It is believed to be part of an ancient line of clumping onions brought to the Piman people by Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century, from which it apparently “escaped” to become integrated into the landscape of the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness in Arizona.

The Tohono O’odham tribe calls this land home, and the name I’itoi represents the “Elder Brother,” their creator god. The I’itoi is also known as the “Man in the Maze” and depicted in a labyrinth design that can be found on Tohono O’odham jewelry or baskets. For the Tohono O’odham people, this unassuming onion is a sacred reminder of the creation story and our journey through the maze of life.

Learn more about the I’itoi Onion.

This fresh take on a classic dip can be made up to 2 days in advanced and chilled. The tanginess from the yogurt mellows out the onions for an addicting treat. Try it served with sliced carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, red peppers or even pita wedges. 


Caramelized I’itoi Onion Dip


Servings: 6-8 servings
Active: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour, 25 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bunches of I’itoi onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre)


Heat oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool slightly.

In a blender or food processor, add yogurt and goat cheese. Top with caramelized onion mixture. Pulse a few times until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Serve. 

Recipe adapted from: http://www.chowhound.com/recipes/caramelized-onion-dip-21689  


If you’re around the Phoenix, Arizona area, you can purchase I’itoi Onions from Pinnacle Farms. 

If you’re interested in growing I’itoi Onions, you can order seeds from Native Seeds.