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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

FOOD 101: How To Chiffonade

How to chiffonade. Photo courtesy Marichelle | Lifeflix | Flickr.

 

We so often recommend a chiffonade (shif-oh-NOD) garnish that we’re devoting an article to it.

Chiffonade is a chopping technique in which leafy herbs or greens (basil, sage and spinach, for example) are cut into long, thin strips. Large, stackable leaves are needed—the technique doesn’t work with small leaves such as parsley or thyme.

The word comes from the French chiffon, “little rag,” and refers to the shreds that this technique produces. It is also used to slice other foods (such as crêpes or thin omelets) into strips.

The technique, shown in the photo, is easy:

1. STACK the leaves.

2. ROLL them tightly.

3. SLICE perpendicular to the roll.

 

Use the chiffonade as a garnish or stir into eggs, salads, soups, stews, etc.

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Use Horseradish

Horseradish root, grated root and prepared
horseradish (in dish). Photo courtesy
Microplane.

 

While Americans are piling on the hot sauce, they’re overlooking horseradish—a different kind of hot and spicy.

Horseradish, Amoriacia rusticana, is a pungent root vegetable with a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. Popular among ancient Greeks and Romans, this Old World food was favored by early healers for treating sore throats and digestive upsets.

Horseradish is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables (Brassicaceae) and pairs well with its “cousins”: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna (a variety of mustard green), radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi (also called rosette bok choy, spinach mustard or spoon mustard) and turnip.

Where Does Wasabi Fit In?

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica), a type of horseradish served with sushi, is another cousin. Wasabi has more complex flavors, is more difficult to grow and is accordingly far more expensive. SPOILER: Unless you’re in a super-high-end sushi bar, you’re getting conventional horseradish, mixed with mustard and colored green to look like wasabi. Here’s the scoop.

 
Today, horseradish is usually grated and mixed with vinegar, cream or mayonnaise to make condiments or sauces. On the medicinal side, its volatile compounds are being studied as anti-carcinogens.

The roots can be found in most produce sections, and prepared horseradish is sold in jars in the refrigerator case. We always have a jar of prepared horseradish at hand (actually two jars—regular and beet flavored). But those who want the sharpest bite will grate it fresh from the root.
 
GRATE YOUR OWN

If you don’t already have a fine grater, take a look at the fine grater from Microplane’s Artisan Series. You can quickly grate horseradish into fine pieces, ready to blend. And of course, it can grate anything else, from cheeses to onions to citrus zest. You can purchase one where fine kitchen gadgets are sold, or online, for an SRP of $9.95.

HOW TO USE HORSERADISH

Most Americans eat the majority of their horseradish in cocktail sauce (make your own by combining prepared horseradish with chili sauce or ketchup).

But here’s what else you can do with it:

  • Bread: Instead of garlic bread, make “horseradish bread”: blend with softened butter and fresh herbs, spread on sliced bread and broil.
  • Condiments: Mix with mayonnaise for a great sandwich spread), make an even spicier mustard.
  • Dips: Add to sour cream or Greek yogurt; add a splash to guacamole.
  • Salads: Add to dressings, cole slaw, potato salad and the “protein salads”: chicken, egg, tuna, etc.
  • Sauces: Add horseradish to sour cream or crème fraîche for a fish sauce or to give a kick to marinara sauce. An easy horseradish cream sauce for beef: sour cream blended to taste with horseradish, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and white wine vinegar.
  • Soups and stews: horseradish pairs famously with beef and seafood, but try it with vegetable and other soups.
  • More: Once you try horseradish mashed potatoes, you’ll be hooked (you can also mix some into twice-baked potatoes or potato pancakes); ditto for beet salad, or in a sour cream sauce with any beets. Also: deviled eggs, horseradish crusts, mac and cheese, smoked salmon and of course, Bloody Marys.
  •  

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-BEET HORSERADISH

    Make this delicious, quick and easy condiment and use it with vegetables and cheeses. The tannins in cranberries and beets work well with a complex, aged Cheddar and other semihard cheeses (we also enjoyed it with soft goat cheese), while the spiciness of horseradish cuts the creaminess.

    Ingredients

  • 1 can (16 ounces) whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 jar (6 ounces) prepared beet horseradish
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry sauce and horseradish. Add salt to taste. Chill and serve alongside cheese.

    2. OPTIONAL: For a sweeter relish, add the brown sugar.

     

    Cranberry-beet horseradish is a delicious cheese condiment. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

     
    A WHOLE HORSERADISH FESTIVAL

    Since 1987, the International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, Illinois has celebrated the root with food food and fun activities.It’s held the first weekend in June.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Ways To Use Tofu

    Tofu is a nifty food. Some people don’t like the spongy texture and find it bland. But the great thing about tofu is that it’s adaptable to any flavor you cook with it.

    It’s also modest in calories—94 per half cup—with 10 grams of protein, zero cholesterol and just 1% carb, which is dietary fiber. There are large amounts of calcium and iron and nice hits of B6 and magnesium. It’s a gluten-free product.

    We’re neither vegetarian or vegan, but a few years ago we started to add more tofu to our diet as a New Year’s resolution to cut back on cholesterol-laden proteins and to eat more sustainably (animal methane is the #1 contributor to greenhouse gas).

    Now, we’re hooked. At Asian restaurants, we’ll typically choose a tofu dish over more “meaty” options.

    Don’t be afraid to experiment at home. Tofu is very easy to work with once you try it. As you learn the range of tofu styles available, you’ll discover how it can add a new dimension to your cooking.

    Tofu is:

     

    We love to snack on fried tofu instead of mozzarella sticks. Enjoy them with a fat-free Greek yogurt dip or with a ponzu sauce dip with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Photo by Sakurai Midori | Wikimedia.

     

  • Incredibly versatile. Beyond using as a protein, you can substitute tofu for caloric and cholesterol-laden staples like sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese and ricotta (try a tofu tiramisu).
  • Not just for Asian cooking. It can fit into any cuisine. As a start, try Italian dishes with tofu instead of other proteins —tofu parm instead of chicken parm, for example.
  •  

    Pudding without fat/cholesterol: Delicious
    tofu pudding substitutes for flan or panna
    cotta. Photo by Chris 73 | Wikimedia.

      Preparing tofu is easy. Drain off all the water and wrap the block in paper towels to blot; then slice it according to the recipe.

    There are different styles of tofu, and the recipes will specify the style of tofu you need.

  • Soft tofu is best used in dips, smoothies, desserts, and blended into lower-fat, cholesterol-free salad dressings. We love a mango smoothie blended with orange juice, honey, milk/soy milk and soft tofu; and a chocolate tofu mousse. Mash it with avocado or hummus for a snack or sandwich spread. Cut the tofu into small cubes for blending or mashing.
  • Medium Firm tofu works well in casseroles, soups and salads. Cube it as a protein-rich garnish for soups and see how good a tofu scramble is (you won’t miss conventional scrambled eggs in this recipe).
  • Firm and Extra Firm tofu are great meat substitutes and ideal for stir-frying, grilling, deep-frying, crumbled in chili, and much more. Marinate Extra Firm tofu in soy sauce and then chop it into blocks for conventional grilling or kebabs. Crumble Firm tofu and mix with ground turkey, onion and breadcrumbs for tasty meatballs. Create your own tofu burgers with mashed tofu, bread crumbs, chopped onion and seasonings.
  •  

    There’s no need to buy a tofu recipe book; but if you want to learn to make your own at home, this book, Asian Tofu, is a great resource.

    But you can start at HouseFoods.com, which has numerous recipes in every meal category.
     
    TOFU TIPS

  • BUY premium quality tofu. If you care about non-GMO foods, rely on a brand like House Foods, which uses only non-genetically modified soybeans grown in the USA and is Non-GMO Project verified.
  • STORE leftover tofu in a water-filled, airtight container in the fridge. It can keep for two to three days, but change the water every day or two.
  • FREEZE excess tofu in its original container or a freezer bag. To thaw, just leave it out on the counter for a few hours (don’t microwave it). Defrosted tofu’s texture becomes more spongy, great to soak up marinade sauces and great for the grill.
  •   

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    FOOD FUN: Purple Snow Peas

    Purple snow peas are relatively new to the marketplace, and may give some people a double take. Simply, they are snow peas bred to have a deep purple skin instead of the original green one.

    The Shiraz pea variety was first developed in the United Kingdom in the early 2000s; the Midnight Snow and Sugar Magnolia varieties originated in the United States around the same time. However, there’s always a considerable lag to market, as breeders perfect the new produce and produce enough quantities for commercial introduction.

    The snow pea—purple, green or otherwise—grows in cooler climates, and has a peak season from mid-fall and throughout the winter months. Purple is a fun change from green snow peas, for recipes, salads or just plain snacking.

    Similar to their green siblings, purple snow peas have a slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy, meaty texture and are the same size as conventional snow peas—two to three inches in length. The pod encases petite, flat, green peas. Once the inner peas become visible through the skin, the snow pea is at its best eating quality.

    Purple snow peas can be used raw or cooked, in any recipe that calls for conventional snow peas:

     

    Fun food: purple snow peas. Photo courtesy HonestCooking.com, which used them in a colorful pasta salad.

  • Serve them as a side, along or in a vegetable medley.
  • Use them in stir-fries, curries and fried rice.
  • Showcase their vibrant color in salads and on crudité platters.
  • Turn them into hors d’oeuvre, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with crab or other salad or seasoned soft cheese.
  •  
    The purple skin will turn dark green if steamed or boiled for too long. To preserve the bright purple hue, stick to quick cooking methods such as blanching and sautéeing.

     

    Yes, it’s real: purple snow peas. Photo
    courtesy TorontoGardens.Blogspot.com.

     

    RECIPE IDEAS

    These recipes are from Melissas.com, which sells exotic produce including purple snow peas.

  • Asian Slaw (recipe)
  • Asian Vegetable Salad (recipe)
  • Baby Summer Squash & Snow Pea Stir-Fry (recipe)
  • Chinese Vegetable Medley (recipe)
  • Ginger Chicken With Snow Peas (recipe)
  • Orange Glazed Snow Peas & Carrots (recipe)
  • Portobello Mushroom & Snow Peas Stir-Fry (recipe)
  • Savoy Cabbage Asian Slaw (recipe)
  • Stir-Fried Chicken, Snow Peas & Bamboo Shoots (recipe)
  • Stir-Fry Vegetables with Snow Peas (recipe)
  • Vegetable Stir Fry (recipe)
  •  

    SNOW PEA TRIVIA

    The purple snow pea is a member of the Fabaceae family, commonly known as the legume, pea or bean family. The species is Pisum sativum, which includes all peas. The purple snow pea is Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon; the green variety is Pisum sativum var. saccharatum.

    Snow peas, along with sugar snap peas, have edible pods. By contrast, the pods of field peas and garden peas are made of inedible fiber, requiring the peas to be shelled.

    While thought of as a vegetable, botanically speaking peas are a fruit:

  • The plants blossom prior to producing a pea pod.
  • The seeds are contained within (as are the seeds within a conventional fruit, such as an apple, cherry or citrus fruit).
  •  
    Purple snow peas contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are provide the vibrant coloring. Anthocyanins provide the blue, purple or red coloration in flowers, fruits, leaves, roots and stems. (For detail geeks: the color depends on the pH of the plant.)

    A member of the powerful flavonoid antioxidant group, anthocyanins been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which boost the immune system and can help aid in the prevention of certain cancers. And they’re very low in calories.

    So: Eat up!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Sneak More Veggies Into Your Diet

    Eating healthier in the new year, Part 2 (see yesterday’s Part 1):

    If you’re not a veggie lover—or simply don’t make the right choices—increasing your daily intake of vegetables may seem like a chore. But it pays off big time over the long run, and is worth your attention.

    According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid a painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis, and guard against cataract and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision loss.”

    If you don’t already pack three or more servings of veggies into your daily food plan, here are five pretty painless ways to get with the program.

    1. ADD VEGGIES TO CAKE & MUFFINS

    That got your attention, didn’t it? If you regularly enjoy a piece of cake or a muffin, switch to carrot, pumpkin or zucchini bread (make them yourself to pack in the maximum amount of veggies); or a carrot muffin instead of another variety. Add some nuts for protein. Add mashed beets to chocolate cake and cupcakes: That’s how the original red velvet cake was created.

     

    Zucchini bread, like carrot bread and pumpkin bread, does include a serving of veggies (or partial serving, depending on the recipe and portion size). Photo courtesy Valerie Confections.

     

    Mind you, this isn’t “health food”; but it’s a better choice.

    2. ADD VEGGIES TO SANDWICHES

    Forget that tasteless slice of tomato until the real deal arrives with summer. Instead, add grilled vegetables: red bell peppers to replace that tomato, grilled summer squash or other favorite. Cucumbers don’t pack a lot of nutrition, but if you like the crunch, pile them on.

    Pickled vegetables are another delicious option. You can pickle them in an hour, and keep them in the fridge for easy access. Here’s how to pickle vegetables. You can also pickle fruit, like apple and pear slices.

     

    Not mashed potatoes, but mashed cauliflower!
    Photo courtesy FAGE Greek Yogurt.

     

    3. MASHÉD & PUREED VEGGIES

    Mash them! Cauliflower and broccoli make an impressive alternative to mashed potatoes. To get the best out of them, simply boil the florets in salted water for about five minutes, then blend with olive oil, salt and pepper.

    In fact, mashed cauliflower is a far more nutritious alternative to mashed potatoes. While it’s delicious as cauliflower, some of the veggie-averse might think it’s mashed potatoes. You can fool some of the people some of the time.
     
    *There is a famous quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” However, there is no record that Lincoln ever said this (here are the facts). However, it’s such a great quote, we have to attribute it to someone.
     
    PASTA

    It’s easy to “hide” vegetables in pasta dishes. You can dice them, steam them and mix them into the sauce; or simply toss them with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

     
    Another great trick: Layer them into lasagna: In go bell peppers, carrots, green beans, asparagus and broccoli. Yummy, as well as good for health!

    And while you’re at it, switch the refined white flour pasta for whole wheat pasta. No one will complain.
     
    5. SOUP

    Even people who don’t like to eat veggies enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup. If you don’t have time to make your own, just steam chopped veggies in the microwave and toss them into store-bought soup to amp up the veggies in there. Or cook them in your choice of beef, chicken or vegetable broth (like College Inn or Swanson’s), tomato or vegetable juice.

    Get the most nutritional mileage from deep-colored vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, green beans and summer squash; and the cruciferous group, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, among others.†

    While you’re at it, add some protein-packed, fiber-filled beans.

    This article was adapted from an original article by Shubhra Krishan published on Care2.com.
     
    *The expanded group includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna (a variety of mustard green), radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi (also called rosette bok choy, spinach mustard or spoon mustard), turnip and wasabi (a type of horseradish).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Winter Vegetable Kabobs

    Yes, we’re past Thanksgiving, but these “Thanksgiving Kabobs” work all fall and winter and are equally fun for Christmas dinner. They may even have people who don’t like to eat vegetables asking for more!

    Our friend Hannah Kaminsky of BittersweetBlog.com created “Thanksgiving kabobs” from all the classic Thanksgiving (and Christmas) accoutrements. They’re threaded onto portion-controlled, dippable skewers.

  • Serve them as a side with the main course; as a vegetarian meal atop a bed of mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or whole grains.
  • For a non-holiday dinner, you can add cubed turkey to the skewers for the a main course.
  • Serve them on a platter as an appetizer
  • Hannah adds cubes of sourdough or sturdy cornbread to evoke stuffing.
  • Sweet potato can substitute for acorn or butternut squash or pumpkin.
  • Trimmed green beans can be added.
  •  


    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    “These kebabs are limited only by a lack of imagination,” says Hannah. She loves gravy for dipping on the side; the choice is yours.

    RECIPE: THANKSGIVING KABOBS

    Ingredients

    Quantities will vary depending on how many people you plan to serve and which vegetables/add-ins you choose.

  • Small Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
  • Butternut squash, cubed
  • Turkey cubes or vegan options, including seitan or tempeh
  • Large fresh cranberries*
  • Optional: mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, whole grain (barley, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • Optional: Gravy
  •  

    If you regularly use skewers, invest in the
    steel variety. Unlike wood skewers, they
    don’t have to be presoaked and they’re
    sustainable: no trees are sacrificed. These
    are from Norpro.

     

    Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup†
  • 2 tablespoons olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch rubbed sage
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE wooden skewers by submerging in water for at least 20 minutes. This prevents them from burning (or worse, catching fire) while in the oven. If using metal skewers, skip this step.

     

    2. PREHEAT oven to 400°F and lightly grease a shallow baking dish that can accommodate the full length of the skewers. Thread individual vegetables on the skewers in any pattern or proportion you like. Just ensure that all your components are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Place the finished skewers in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. If you’re making enough for a big party, consider a second baking dish.

    3. WHISK together the ingredients for the marinade and brush it generously over the skewered “meat” and veggies. If you have any leftover marinade, reserve it to baste the skewers halfway through the cook time.

    4. BAKE for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, flipping after 10 and basting if desired. The vegetables should be nicely browned and tender when done. Serve immediately over hot mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or grains with a small bowl of gravy for dipping.
     
    *When selecting cranberries, look for particularly large berries and skewer them precisely in the center, as they have a tendency to wither and/or split while baking.

    †Hannah prefers Grade B maple syrup in this recipe.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Roasted Beet, Avocado and Granny Smith Apple Towers

    Here’s a tasty first course in Christmas colors. It’s one of the many recipes on TheAmazingAvocado.com.

    RECIPE: ROASTED BEET, AVOCADO & GRANNY SMITH APPLE TOWERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 medium beets, scrubbed with leaves trimmed
  • 1 medium size, ripe Haas avocados
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, diameter close to apples
  • ½ cups goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional:¼ cups parsley, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 2 tablespooons pine nuts
  • Lemon juice as needed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. WASH and scrub the beets. Pat dry.

     

    Festive starter: a Beet, Avocado and Apple Tower. Photo courtesy The Amazing Avocado.

     

    2. PLACE beets on large piece of aluminum foil. Lightly coat with olive oil. Add dash of salt and pepper. For even roasting, wrap foil over, covering beets completely, and crimp ends. Roast until cooked through, 30- 50 minutes. Remove, uncover and let cool. Do not discard oil in the foil; you can use it later as dressing.

    3. CUT the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit and skin. Place the flat side down on a cutting board. Slice horizontally. Squeeze lemon juice on to prevent browning. Cut Granny Smith apple the same way, but leave skin on. Squeeze lemon juice on to prevent browning.

    4. COOL beets until you can handle them. Slip their peels off using your fingers or a paring knife. Slice crosswise. Stack on plate alternating beets, apples and avocados.

    5. SPRINKLE crumbled goat cheese over top. Garnish with parsley and pine nuts if desired. Drizzle the used olive oil from roasting and the rest of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Food Scraps

    Who wants to waste food? Most of us just need a few tips on how to keep more of it from hitting the trash can.

    Before you toss out trimmings or wilted produce, consider these uses for food scraps. Most are from an article by Becky Striepe on Care2.com.

    1. BREAD CRUSTS & CRACKER CRUMBS. If you’re making crustless sandwiches or if nobody want the end of the bread, grind them into breadcrumbs. Store them in the freezer until you have enough. The crumbs from the bottom of a box of crackers can be used for breading or to top off a casserole. If there aren’t enough cracker crumbs, mix them with your other breadcrumbs.

    2. CITRUS PEEL & ZEST. After you’ve squeezed the juice from the lemon, zest it or remove the peel. Add zest to salad dressing or dough; stir zest or peel into cold drinks or tea (without milk). Use zest as a garnish; infuse it into vinegar, vodka or other spirit.

    A small slice of citrus peel keeps brown sugar from hardening. Just store the sugar and peel the fridge to keep the peel fresher, longer. If you have no immediate use for peel or zest, you can freeze them or grind them in the garbage disposal to generate a fresh aroma.

     

    When an apple is no longer crisp enough to eat, cook it. Photo by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

     

    3. COFFEE GROUNDS. Use the grounds to deodorize your hands and cutting board after chopping garlic and onions. Rub them on, then rinse off. Seriously, it works!

    4. FRESH FRUIT. Aging apples, pears and other fresh fruits can be baked, sautéed or puréed into a sauce. The peels can be stepped into a cup of black, green or white tea. Apple peels can be steeped in boiling water with cinnamon and other spices to make a tasty “cider tea.”

     

    Save those pretty celery leaves for garnish. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    5. PULP. Reuse the pulp left from juicing vegetables to make broth. Strain out the solids before serving. Use fruit pulp to add fiber and vitamins to smoothies.

    6. VEGETABLES. Wilted veggies, broccoli and chard and kale stems, peels, tops with leaves: Many people toss them; but they’re just as edible as the rest of the plant. Steam and purée, stir fry or bake these veggie bits with tomato or cheese sauce. Add garlic or chile. Beet tops can be cooked like chard, a close relative.

    Or make broth: Celery tops, onion and garlic skins, carrot peels, and other food scraps can be used to flavor vegetable broth. You can save the scraps in a freezer-safe container until you have enough to cook. When the broth is done, strain out the solids. You can always give them to someone with a rabbit, hamster or gerbil.

    Instead of throwing out celery leaves, use them as a garnish.

     

    Try any or all of these tips, and see how good you feel about not wasting food.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Which Onion To Use For What

    The different types of onions are not universally interchangeable. When a recipe calls for “an onion,” it would be helpful to know which one of the common onions—red, sweet, white or yellow—you should use.

    Yes, the recipe will still work if you use a yellow onion instead of a red onion; but using the right onion for that recipe will produce the flavor that the recipe writer intended.

    Here are tips from Katie Waldeck, one of our favorite food writers. They are adapted from her original article on Care2.com.

    TYPE OF ONIONS & HOW TO USE THEM

    Red Onions

    Red onions tend to be pungent and spicy for most of the year; the fresh summer red onions are much more mild. They are best used raw. If you find the taste too sharp, soak the sliced onions in water for 30 to 60 minutes (this works for any type of onion).

     

    The most colorful onion, the red onion. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     
    Use Them For: burgers, pickling, salads, salsas, sandwiches.

    Sweet Onions

    Sweet onions tend to be larger, with thinner skin. Familiar varieties include Maui onions, Texas sweet onions, Vidalia onions and Walla Walla onions. The sweetness is largely due to the low-sulfur soil in which they are grown. Sweet onions have minimal pungency and can be eaten without fear of “onion breath.” However, they break down quickly in cooking and aren’t very complex in flavor, so they should not be used in place of yellow onions. Unlike other varieties, sweet onions spoil quickly and should be stored in the fridge.

    Use Them For: gratins, grilled/roasted vegetables, onion rings and any raw uses (see uses for Red Onions, above).

     

    The kitchen standard, the yellow onion.
    Photo courtesy Flagstaff Fotos.

     

    Yellow Onions

    This “standard” onion is usually the least expensive variety. If the recipe doesn’t specify a type of onion, a yellow onion is your best bet. Yellow onions have a complex and spicy flavor, but they have more sulfur than other onion varieties, so they’re much more pungent and tear-inducing and can be overly assertive for eating raw. They are particularly hardy and keep for a longer time than other varieties.

    Use Them For: Dishes that cook for a long time on low heat: sauces, soup, stews, stocks, risotto, sautéed onions.

    White Onions

    Sharper than yellow onions, crisp and clean in flavor, white onions can be used both raw and cooked. Cook them as you would yellow onions, serve them raw as you would red onions. White onions have a slightly shorter storage life than yellow onions.

     

    Use Them For: Mexican food (including chili), white sauces and for the raw uses above.
     
    STORING & SLICING ONIONS

    Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light, with the exception of the more fragile sweet onions, which should be stored in the fridge.

    Here are seven ways to slice onions.

      

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    RECIPE: Baked Potato Stuffed With Leftovers


    Shrimp baked potato. Photo courtesy
    SeaPak.

     

    If you have a few leftover beans, shrimp, veggies or whatever, but not enough for a main course or to toss with pasta, add them to baked potatoes for a different take on the stuffed bake potato.

    A layer of cheese or other dairy adds richness, but you can do without it.

    Here’s all you have to do:

    1. BAKE the potato as usual. Slice in half.

    2. ADD optional grated cheese or butter plus any other toppings from the list below.

    3. WARM in the microwave for 15 seconds or until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

     

     

    TOPPINGS

  • The Cheese Group: cheddar, feta, goat cheese, jack, mozzarella, Swiss, etc., grated or crumbled
  • The Dairy Group: butter, Greek yogurt, sour cream
  • The Herb Group: basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage
  • The Meat Group: bacon, ham or whatever you have, chopped
  • The Onion Group: chive, leek, red onion, scallion, sweet onion
  • The Vegetable Group: bell peppers, beans, corn, fresh or sundried tomatoes, any cooked veggies, diced
  • Plus: gravy or other sauce, sliced olives and/or anything else you have on hand
  •  

    Bacon, green onions and sour cream: the classic. Photo courtesy HomeCookedShortcuts.com.

     

      

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