Onions are the foundation for many dishes. They are one of those ubiquitous, modest ingredients that can be transformed into an elegant or simple dish without a run to the store. Onions are delicious in French onion soup, panades, caramelized on a pizza, in the classic German Zwiebelkuchen, or on burgers or sandwiches. The recipes below mostly feature onions. The list would be far too long if I included the hundreds of dishes in which onions are sautéed at the beginning!
Sweet onions are just that, sweet, juicy and less sharp than the storage onions (typically yellow and sometimes red in our region). They release more liquid when cooked and don’t keep as well. I love them on sandwiches or burgers or in salads or quick vegetable sautés. You will likely see them with their fresh green stalks still attached in your CSA or at the market. A bit later in the season the stalks will be gone and the outer layer will have dried into a papery skin.
Red onions tend to be just a little milder than yellow storage onions and are pretty and delicious in salsas and salads and pickles as well as anywhere you would use yellow onions. Yellow onions are my staple and are the beginning of most sauces, curries, dals, stews, soups and stir fries. However, I really do substitute one kind for another in most anything so don’t sweat the type too much.
Shallots are also a bit milder than red and yellow ones and are often used in vinaigrettes or in pan sauces. They are also delicious roasted. You can also slice them thinly and fry them for a decadent, crunchy topping for fish, salads or rice dishes.
Spring onions or salad onions may show up in your CSA or be available at the farmers’ market. They can be used much like green onions (scallions) where the whole stalk is tender and delicious.
Some people are sensitive to raw onions and a little can go a long way so start with moderation. Soak your sliced or chopped raw onions in ice water for 15 -30 minutes to reduce their sharpness a bit and make them extra crisp. It’s a great trick for onions you’re adding to salads or fresh salsas.