Hello and Welcome Everyone,
While thinking of ways you could add more flavor to food, I thought of caramelized onions. These are so flavorful when done right, and can be used for almost any meal. You can use them as a condiment, side-dish, an ingredient stirred in or lightly mixed-in or plopped on top. This gives you more flavor and a new look to the same dish.
Try piled high on sandwiches (especially good on a grilled cheese sandwich) a turkey sandwich or a burger. Serve along side or on top of beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetarian recipes. Add to salads whether its pasta, potato, a green salad, spinach salad, kale salad, and adds a nice sweetness to bitter greens. Caramelized onions are so flavorful which is helpful if you are trying to enjoy more vegetables, especially on a low sodium diet. Add them to sauces. Serve over bruschetta, focaccia, even toast. Add them to omelets, frittatas, quiches, and scrambled eggs. Also, a great addition to savory tarts, casseroles, gratins and stuffings. You can flavor-up a baked potato, mashed potatoes, rice, risottos, pasta, quinoa, polenta, cornbread, scones, and make a dip. Of course add them to soups and stews like the famous French Onion Soup and the Lentil soup (from the previous newsletter about Mirepoix). There are endless possibilities.
There are many recipes for caramelized onions and most have salt and sugar added. I never added them, just took my time. It seems like most recipes take only 7-10 minutes, some maybe 20 minutes. To me these are more like browned onions which are flavorful but not truly caramelized onions, which usually take 40 minutes to an hour. These are not hard to make. They take some time but the flavor is worth it. Make plenty as they keep refrigerated about a week and can be frozen for about 3 months so you can always have some on hand.
Health Benefits of Onions
Most of us think of onions and we think tears and strong flavors and not about how healthy they are. All onions have health benefits. Some types of onions are more effective for specific health problems than others, like green onions are better for treating a cold. The onion has almost all the nutrients needed by the body. Including vitamin C and calcium, antioxidants, fiber, no fat, low in calories and is about 80% water. They have quite a lot of research behind them (not as much as garlic) for disease prevention.
Osteoporosis: A study in Switzerland shows a peptide called GCP which is in onions is said to help and prevent osteoporosis.
Diabetes: Allyl propyl disulfide and diallyl disulfide in onions is said to help lower blood sugar levels and help increase the production of insulin and more effective when combined with garlic.
Cancer: Antioxidants like quercetin and phenol are in onions which help prevent cancer especially in the head and neck areas.
Cardiovascular Diseases: Onions have sulfides and flavonoids like quercetin which also helps reduce cholesterol, can help prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Red onions are higher is quercetin than other varieties.
We should all read more about onions and include more in our diets. For the most health benefits we should consume at least 1 serving of onions every day which is ½ cup. However, 3 or 4 servings would put us closer to our daily goal. Lucky for us, most of the nutrients in onions are not affected by cooking.
Note: The average American consumes about 19 pounds of onions per year, whereas Libya consumes the most, at about 68 pounds per person per year.
A Little More About Onions
There are many varieties of onions including red, purple, white, green or spring, scallions, leeks, shallots and the most popular yellow (sometimes called brown) onions. They vary in size, color, the time of year they are harvested, and flavor.
In the US about 87% of the onions grown are yellow, 8% red and 5% white.
- Red onions– used mostly for their beautiful color, raw in salads, also grilled, roasted, charbroiled
- White onions– famously used in Mexican food, in salsas, salads, white sauces
- Yellow onions – most popular and used in just about everything and is the best choice for caramelizing.
If you don’t like onions or just want to try something different. Sweet onions are called sweet because they are not as strong and some varieties are eaten like an apple and even for an onion sandwich. When caramelized these give a different depth of flavor.
Some of the types of sweet onions are:
- Vidalia onions: Georgia
- Walla Walla: Washington
- Texas Sweet 1015’s: Texas (named for the date Oct 15th they are planted)
- Maui Onions: Hawaii
- Imperial Sweet: California
- Carzalia Sweet: New Mexico
- Osos: from South America are said to be the sweetest
- Red onions – are commonly thought of as sweeter but they can be very strong. Generally the flatter are sweeter than the rounder ones.
Tip: Go to your local Farmers Market and find some sweet onions to try. Also specialty stores like Whole Foods and some grocery stores.
Caramelized Onions Recipe – No Salt, No Sugar, No Flour
1 Tbsp good olive oil or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 pounds yellow onions, top and bottom cut off, peeled, cut in half top to bottom and sliced ¼ inch thick across the grain (about 4 medium-sized)
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar or other mild vinegar (optional) or water
1 Tbsp #103 Table Tasty salt substitute (or more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, optional
Heat a large heavy bottom 12-inch skillet over medium heat add butter and oil. Add onions, stir to coat well. Cover about 10 minutes to sweat the onions. Uncover and stir. Cook about 30 to 40 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally until glossy, soft and deep brown. If starts to burn, turn down the heat to low. Add sherry vinegar, Table Tasty and pepper. Stir and let cook about 2 minutes longer. Makes about 4 servings.
- Tip: High heat can make onions taste bitter. When sauteing onions it is best to use a low or medium heat.
- Tip: Cut onions as close to cooking or serving time as possible as their onion flavor deteriorates and their aroma gets stronger.
- Tip: Chopped or sliced onions can be refrigerated up to 7 days in a sealed container.
I really hope you have found this information helpful and will add more onions to your diet and try Caramelized Onions.
Quick Caramelized Onion Dip: Add Sour Cream to the consistency you like. Add Table Tasty, to taste.