Friday, April 25, 2008

Food of the Week: Onions

With Tears of Joy, We Celebrate the Onion!

350 semi trucks full of this bulbous vegetables are consumed everyday in the United States. 18.3 pounds per person, per year….It seems that everyone is eating their onions! This veggie is everywhere, in our sauté pans, on the grill and even in our tears. This guy is action packed: versatile, healthful and historic!

The onion, a member of the Lily family, (which also includes leeks, chives and garlic) gets its name from the Greek word unio which means “only" or "single” because the plant can only produce one onion at a time. Click here to find out how the bulb is created, this is really cool! There are two classes of onions, spring onions that grow in warm climates and have a sweet taste. Think Vidalia or Walla Walla. The other variety is called "storage" onions, which include yellow, white and red onions. Their strong, pungent flavor comes from their long hibernation in a dry climate post-harvest.

Onions are native to ancient Asia and the Middle East and first popped their heads into the scene five thousand years ago. The Pharaohs used to pay their workers in onions and carry the spiritual veggie into their tombs for an afterlife snack.

Onions are really healthy, but this is the coolest bit: onions actually reduce internal swelling, alleviate allergy pressure, de-congest the chest and minimize asthmatic inflammation. Onions also help eliminate bad bacteria from the body. Mom was right about soup when you have a cold, but now that you’re older, think for yourself! Opt for French Onion!

But the real question remains….Why do onions make us cry? This phenomenon is due to the sulfuric acid in onions. To reduce your weeping, cut the root end last because that’s were the acid is most concentrated.

Eat ‘em!! Here are some easy ideas…..
cottage cheese + dried cranberries+ red onions=sweet and tangy salad bar snack
rice, quinoa or couscous + green onions + pine nuts = a party-worthy side dish

Want to get more creative? Try this: Grilled Red Onions with Balsamic and Rosemary

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