The onion: the chef’s misunderstood best friend. The unsung workhorse of the kitchen, ever-present in dishes as a vital supporting actor, but rarely the star.
Julia Child once said, “It’s hard to imagine civilization without onions,” and we feel the same way.
Onions can be sweet, savory, salty – the possibilities are endless. Slowly sauté onions and their sweetness shines through. Pickle red onions and their crunchy, perfectly tangy and sweet flavor complements any dish, or makes for a perfect finger-smacking snack on its own.
“Buttermilk onion rings and pickled red onions are my life,” says Chef Bobby Flay, who serves both at each of his 19 Bobby’s Burger Palace restaurants across the country.
Chef Carla Hall fights through onion tears to celebrate the vegetable by stuffing it with garlic, thyme and olive oil, and roasting it slowly. Once cooked she adds some stock and cheese to make… a French Onion Soup Onion. “You end up with an onion in all its glory – transforming from pungent and raw to sweet, molten and delicious,” she says.
Cookbook author and food personality Katie Workman is particularly enthusiastic about onions. “I have a pile of onions in my kitchen at all times; running out is unthinkable. I use them in everything, and one of my favorite go-to appetizers is a caramelized onion grilled pizza — just a few ingredients, but the result is magical.”
Onions rank among the top ten most commonly eaten vegetables in the US with only potatoes and tomatoes ranking higher. Not only are they versatile, onions are also good for you, having been linked to bone health, heart health, fighting bacterial infections and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. In ancient Egypt, onions were even considered an object of worship, symbolizing eternity and buried along with the Pharaohs.
Even author Ruth Reichl loves onions, calling them “the most underrated vegetable in the cupboard.”
Enough about kale! Let’s talk onions and make 2016 #YearOfTheOnion.