How to eat your 22 pounds a year in onions

If you hadn’t heard, Americans on average eat about 22 pounds of onions per person per year. That kind of onion consumption helps keep a body healthy by providing necessary vitamins and nutrients to ward off heart disease and cancers and also keep the gut working at optimum speed.

An easy way to get your 22 pounds a year in is this: for one week a month, buy 2 pounds of onions (that’s roughly 4 onions in your cart). Mix them up by color, keep them all the same — every onion is good for you. Since cut onions have a refrigerator shelf life of about seven days, you can be rest-assured you will not have to waste anything if you set out a good plan. (This also is a great way to incorporate clean eating into your routine).

For that one week, use your onions strategically to use all of them and reduce spoilage, and get the vital nutrition your body needs.

First, halve one onion. Dice one half to add and store in the refrigerator. Use small doses of diced onions throughout the week to add spice and flavor to omelets or frittatas or tacos or salads.

Get your 22 pounds of onions in each year with a strong strategy.

Take the other half and slice up for your lunchtime sandwiches. Onion slices go great with deli roast beef and turkey.

Use the second onion to make a wonderful Basil, Walnut and Onion Pesto, which will go great on those lunchtime sandwiches as a spread, or with crackers for an afternoon or evening snack.

This Basil, Walnut Onion Pesto is a great addition to sandwiches.

The third and fourth onions can easily be incorporated into dinners. Cooking two full meals for the week will give plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week to minimize your time in the kitchen. A couple of dinner ideas include Turkey and Onion Meatball Kabobs or High Protein Quinoa Salad

Or, go simple. Cut your fourth onion into large chunks and sautée with red or green peppers to garnish your protein (chicken, shrimp or steak).

Cut large chucks of onions and peppers, and sauté for a good addition to any protein.

Two pounds of onions, massive amounts of flavor and all the protection your body needs to keep it healthy — in just one week.

 

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Save time on grilling onions this Labor Day

Onions are the essential ingredient in every chef’s recipe box but they can add some time to your cooking schedule. This Labor Day, you probably want a little more time with friends and less at the grill.

We love onions as much as you do and with the help of our cooking pros, we have plenty of onion cooking hacks to share that save time without sacrificing the use of onions as a staple ingredient that builds flavor in all of your favorite recipes.

As you prepare for Labor Day festivities, Linda Carucci, culinary instructor and author of Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, offers her favorite onion hack on the grill.

 

Grilled Onions

Foolproof grilled onions add exponential flavor—and panache—to a juicy grilled hamburger. And they’re tender enough not to shimmy out of place when you bite into the burger.

“One of the things I have found that saves times and cleverly transforms the onion slice on a burger, for example, is the trick of microwaving the slices before I grill them,” Carucci says.

In her book, Carucci advises to skewer each slice of onion with two toothpicks (at 3 and 6 o’clock on the clock face) to hold the onion layers in place.

 

After removing the skins, skewer each onion slice with two perpendicular toothpicks. Round toothpicks are easiest to work with here. To soften the onions before they hit the grill, arrange the slices in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, then microwave them for three minutes.

 

Then she microwaves them.

“Place the onions on a microwave-safe plate and microwave them on high for 3 minutes to cook partially. (Or, steam on a steamer rack above boiling water for 5 minutes),” she advises. “Brush both sides of the onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Then grill them, turning as necessary until they are soft and golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes tota

You’ll find the complete recipe for Grilled Red Onions and lots more helpful tips and techniques in Linda Carucci’s Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, named a Washington Post Best Cookbook of 2016.

 

Place the oiled and seasoned onion slices on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear.

Try Carucci’s trick on the National Onion Association’s recipe for

Grilled Onion Cheeseburgers

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 large yellow or white on ions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
4 white or whole wheat hamburger buns, or Kaiser rolls, split
3 ounces crumbled or shredded cheese (blue cheese, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, etc.)*

Directions

Combine ground beef, thyme and garlic in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into eight 1/2-inch thick patties.

Follow Carucci’s tips above for preparing sliced onions.

Place patties and onions slices on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill patties, uncovered, 11-13 minutes to medium (160 degrees F) doneness until no longer pink in center and juices show no pink color, turning occasionally.

Add desired cheese to burgers about 1 minute before removing from grill. Place cheese-topped burgers on bottom of each bun and top with 1/2 of grilled onions. Close sandwiches. Cover and refrigerate remaining 4 burgers and onions to use in “Meatballs” & Pasta with Grilled Onions & Fresh Tomato Sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Total preparation and cooking time: 35 to 45 minutes

*Any type of sliced, shredded or crumbled cheese may also be used to top burgers. We suggest cheddar, Swiss, provolone, gouda, blue cheese, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese or feta.

Special notes

Recipe and image provided by the National Onion Association.

Onion hack and images copyright Linda Carucci, www.CookingSchoolSecrets.com. Permission granted for use in this National Onion Association blog at onions-usa.org/onionista.

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Onions can be the star of any show — behind the curtain

The best thing about onions is that they can be the star of the show without anyone knowing it. We are aware that there are a few people who don’t prefer the texture of onions, but this sweet onion pesto is proof that you don’t have miss out on the onion’s tasty flavor! Sautéing onions makes them rich, sweet, and soft, allowing them to blend into this savory treat.

Onion pesto recipe

This Basil, Walnut and Sweet Onion Pesto is a great way to infuse onions’ flavor and nutritional attributes into the diet.

 

While not everyone likes onions, not everyone has tasted the variety of ways an onion can be cooked. In fact, when most people say they don’t like onions, they are more concerned about texture rather than flavor.

“No one is ever going to say these onions are great in here, and if they do comment on the onions, usually something is wrong (with the recipe),” says Linda Carucci, former dean of California Culinary Academy, a culinary instructor and author of the critically acclaimed Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks. “Onions provide depths of flavor like nothing else.”

Onions — with a naturally protectant outer skin to ward off food-borne illnesses — also provide enough nutritional and health benefits that including them in your recipes will help your body develop a healthy gut, fight off inflammation, and potentially help your body fight off cancer. So it’s worthwhile to get the most out of this natural ninja.

Sneaking it into your recipes could be the equivalent of sneaking spinach into your berry smoothies – but with the added bonus of adding flavor rather than flying under the radar.

We suggest you start small with this Basil, Walnut and Sweet Onion Pesto. The onions hiding inside this sweet onion pesto give a boost to any meal or snack. Use it to top crackers, garnish pizzas, fill sandwiches, or as a spread for your favorite avocado toast.

Basil, Walnut, Sweet Onion Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped (1 cup)

1 ½ cups packed fresh basil leaves

¼ cup chopped raw walnuts

5 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and softened. Set aside to cool.

Add the basil and the cooled onions to a small food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times until finely chopped. Add the walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt. Puree 30 to 45 seconds, until all ingredients are combined and the walnuts and cheese make the pesto almost creamy in appearance. Add more salt if desired. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Note:  If you enjoy the zesty bite of raw sweet onions, you can make this pesto without sautéing the onions first. Simply add all the ingredients to the food processor.

Recipe and photos for the National Onion Association by Lori Rice.

 

 

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Get ready for the onion experience

The idea of meal kits for many is genius. They offer the convenience we desire, great foods and easy directions for even the novice home cooks. But perhaps they put a bit more of a crimp on the budget than you’d like. What few millennials realize is that they’re learning how to cook with each delivery. If you’re ready to branch out and save a little money, your’e ready for the onion experience.

 GET COOKING

Cut the apron strings and crack open a cook book — or better yet, find an interesting recipe on Pinterest, and cue up to the latest how-to video on YouTube, and get cooking.

We at the National Onion Association have dozens of recipes that involve the ubiquitous onion. With its myriad methods to enhance a recipe, it’s hard to get it wrong — from caramelizing to roasting, get ready for an experience!

UBIQUITOUS ONION

For starters, know that are varying kinds of onions out there, each with recipes tailored to their flavors. Yellow onions are perfect for most recipes; white onions are used chiefly in Mexican dishes and red onions are common to sandwiches and salads.

Try this recipe on for size and see if you can “experience” the joy of creating your own dish, and discovering the different flavors onions can deliver. It may take a bit more in prep, so make it a weekend project!

Three Onion Grilled Flatbread

Each variety of onion has its own flavor, texture, and color whether eaten raw or cooked. There’s no better way to express their delicious differences than by using yellow, white, and red onions in one recipe! This grilled flatbread is topped with a creamy herb dressing. Then onions are layered on, each prepared in a unique way so that every bite is bursting with flavor.

 

The grilled flatbread can be cut into small pieces and served as a starter, or make the servings larger and pair it with a salad for a meal. Plan ahead with this recipe. The onions should marinate for two hours and your flatbread dough will need to rise for an hour.

Serves 4 to 6 as a meal

Ingredients

Marinated Onions

1 medium yellow onion, quartered and sliced

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Flatbread

½ cup water, heated to 110-115 degrees F

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 – 2 tablespoons water

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

⅓ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 tablespoon half-and-half

1 teaspoon finally chopped jalapeno, ribs and seeds discarded

1 small red onion, diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

Chopped cilantro for garnish

 

Preparation

Place all ingredients for the marinated onions in a medium bowl. Stir well to coat the onions and dissolve the sugar and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To start the flatbread, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water. Let sit until the yeast blooms, about 5 minutes.

Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low, pour in the yeast. Mix for 30 seconds. It will be dry. Add water as needed, a ½ tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in the center of the bowl in a ball. It should be slightly tacky, but not so sticky that it sticks to your hands. Sprinkle in a little more flour if it becomes too sticky. Let the mixer knead the dough on low to medium speed for 1 minute. Mix in a ½ teaspoon of the salt.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 1 minute and form into a smooth ball. Place the ball in a bowl and coat with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Place in a draft-free spot for one hour, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the sauce and toppings. Place the yogurt, cilantro, chives, mayonnaise, sour cream, half-and-half, and jalapeno in a small food processor or single-serve blender. Puree until all ingredients are combined, and the greens are finally chopped to turn the sauce a light green color. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red onion. Cook for 3 minutes, just until it begins to soften and brown. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F. Brush the grill grate well with olive oil. Punch down the dough and spread or roll into an oval about 14-by-10-inches. This does not need to be exact. A smaller circle will yield a thicker, softer crust. A larger circle will yield a thinner, chewy crust. Place the dough on the grill. Let cook until seared, 2 to 3 minutes. Once seared, flip and grill the other side until the crust is cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Total time will vary by crust thickness and fluctuations in grill temperatures.

Place the crust on a serving platter. Spread with the creamy herb sauce. Drain the marinated onions and scatter over the top of the flatbread. Next, sprinkle with the red onions. Then add the white onion. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Slice and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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Chicken and Shrimp Paella

This paella uses Spanish sofrito, a cooking base made with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic!

Chicken and Shrimp Paella Recipe from the National Onion Association

If you’ve been following along with our exploration of Onions Around the World, you may have already made a batch of Spanish sofrito. If so, this paella recipe comes together quickly. If not, with just a few extra steps you’ll be ready to make this meal.

Paella is cooked on the stovetop, making it ideal for summer when the last thing you want to do is heat up the oven. The dish typically has chicken, sausage, and a variety of seafood. To keep things simple, our version uses chicken breast and jumbo shrimp, but feel free to add other ingredients.

First, we sauté onions, then we add the sofrito base, which is a blend of onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Once chicken stock and water are added, the rice simmers in the flavorful liquid until tender. Garnish with peas, parsley, and lemon wedges to complete the meal and also for a pretty presentation!

Chicken and Shrimp Paella Recipe

Chicken and Shrimp Paella

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast (about ¾ pound), chopped into ½-inch cubes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup white or yellow onion, chopped
1 batch sofrito recipe
2 cups Spanish rice, or short or medium grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water, plus more if needed
20 jumbo raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned (about ¾ pound)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup cooked green peas, thawed and warmed if frozen
Chopped parsley for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving

Preparation

Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with oregano and paprika and toss to coat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until the pieces are no longer pink in the center and any juices run clear. Set aside.

In a separate, large, deep skillet or paella pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Reduce the heat slightly, add the sofrito and stir well. Next add the stock and 1 ½ cups of the water. Stir well.

Stir in the rice. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rice is almost tender. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly, lower the heat and add the additional ½ cup water.

Add the shrimp and continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until opaque and the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Stir in the chicken and salt.

Transfer to a serving platter and top with the peas and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

 

Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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