Like garlic, onions play such a pivotal role in our kitchens that they’re easy to take for granted. But what would we do without them? Sweet onions (Vidalia® from Georgia, Walla Walla from Washington and Maui from Hawaii) will start making more of an appearance in the next couple of months, but “storage” onions (those that were harvested in the fall and kept cool through the winter months) are plentiful now, and likely what most of us have been using for the last few months. They come in three colors: yellow, white and red (or purple, often called “Spanish” onions). Generally speaking, yellow and white onions can be used interchangeably, while red onions are best not substituted for yellow or white—their color can tint dishes pink.
Look for onions that are firm with no cuts, soft spots, browning or blemishes. Also avoid those that have begun to sprout—an indication that they’ve been around for a while. Winter onions tend to have thicker, sturdier papery skins which helps prolong their shelf life over time. Winter onions can be stored in a cool, dry place for several weeks; once cut, store leftovers in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator and use within a week.
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Only tears of joy will be shed here when onions take center stage, as they do in these amazing dinnertime ideas and sides.