This may seem like a weird topic, but it’s been on my mind all week. I recently learned that I have no idea what’s what when it comes to cooking with onion. In a recent conversation with a neighbor, she mentioned needing to run out for an onion because the red onion she had at home wasn’t right for what she was cooking. I said, “What are you making?” She said, “Soup.” I said, “Why not just use the red onion?” She said, “Well it’s soup; a red onion doesn’t work for soup.”
It doesn’t! I would have used the red onion without a second thought, but then I realized I’ve never really considered my choice of onion in all the years I’ve been cooking. If a recipe calls for onion, I just throw in whatever I have on hand; which is usually a red onion (because I think they are pretty) and sometimes yellow because, somehow, I am aware that a yellow onion is pretty multi-purpose. Truthfully, if I had scallions in, I’d toss those in there too.
I give no thought whatsoever to which kind of onion would be better for a dish. Well, my neighbor was indeed correct and she piqued my curiosity.
I did a quick google search for “what onions are best…” and wouldn’t you know; all sorts of results popped up. Here’s what I learned:
Cooking with Onion 101
Yellow Onion – A safe choice, the versatile yellow onion is used with roasts, soups, stews and sauces.
Red Onion – My favorite because of its pretty purple color, this popular choice is best used raw to maintain its color and benefit from its mild, slightly sweet taste. Great in salads and sandwiches.
Sweet Onion/Vidalia – Also versatile and commonly used to make onion rings, French onion soup, gratins and roasted vegetable dishes.
White Onion – While I have never actually bought a white onion, I now know it’s crunchy with a sharp bite. Good for salsas, Mexican dishes and stir-fries.
Green Onions/Scallions – Possibly the mildest of all onions, the green onion is used both in cooked and raw preparations. Great as a garnish for soups and salads.
Shallot – Kind of a garlic/onion mutation, shallots are mild and sweet. They are good for vinaigrettes, garnishes or quiche.
Here are the three sites I viewed to help educate me on cooking with onion.
There you have it – all about onions! Who knew?