I am the first to admit that I love the smell of freshly cut onions. When I smell that remarkable aroma I always think that the tears that I’m wiping away are worth it. Short term pain for long-term gain! The onion is part of the allium family which includes garlic, shallots and leeks. Growing up, my parents and grandparents all sang the praises of eating onions regularly as it has long been believed that the onion has great health benefits. Not only that, the onion stores well, can be added to many dishes and is often affordable and plentiful. The onions that I am going to talk about in this post are the type that I always keep on hand in the house whether or not I have a plan to cook with them – dry-skinned onions. Because onions appear in most world cuisines, they are truly one of the most versatile ingredients you can have!
Dry-skinned onions are readily available at most grocery stores or markets. The standard onions that I encounter most in my stores are red onion, white onion and yellow onion. These types of onions are characterized by a dry, outer skin and the most important thing to look for is that they are firm to the touch. Onions with a dry outer skin have a very long shelf life when stored in cool and dry conditions with good ventilation. Mesh bags or paper bags with holes in them are great to store onions in, however you should avoid long-term storage in either the refrigerator or in plastic bags. Storing onions and potatoes together can cause both to spoil more quickly due to the gases released so best to keep these two pantry staples stored away from each other.
Depending on the type of dry-skinned onion you have, the method of cooking may vary. If the onion is mild and sweet, it can be used raw such as chopped into a Greek salad or sliced for your favourite burger or sandwich. All onions can be sweated, sautéed or roasted before incorporating them into a dish, each cooking method bringing out a different subtlety in flavor. The onion forms an essential part of the mirepoix, which we have written about in a previous post, and highlights how it can be used in soups and stews. Any way you slice it (or cook it), the onion is essential to your kitchen.
Next week I’m going to share with you my easy Cupboard to Table recipe for French onion soup that barely costs a thing, uses ingredients I keep on hand and never fails to impress. Until next week, happy cooking!
Written by, AHWD Cooking Expert – Dan Saunders