Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Onions from
the Barren County Farmers' Market

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Onions belong to the allium family and are close relatives of scallions, shallots, garlic, leeks and even Lilies. They are considered a staple in almost any culture.

There a many types of onions available in the market. They can be grouped as storage onions including red & yellow globe, Spanish, white and pearl onions. Or they can be sold as spring/summer onions, such as scallions, which are much more perishable than storage onions.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Leeks have been a favorite of European cooks for centuries. They are related to the onion but are milder and sweeter with a crisp texture when cooked, making them versatile as an addition to soups and stews or as a side dish. Leeks are more nutritious than onions, containing slightly more vitamins and minerals, and are available year round, though their prime season runs from September through April.

Onions range in pungency from very sweet and mild to very strong. If you take the same type of onion that is grown in one location and grow it in a different location, it can vary considerably in pungency. A good example of this is the Vidalia onion. If it is grown outside the 15 county region where you have to be a registered grower to legally call it a "Vidalia," then it may not be as sweet and cannot be called Vidalia. Otherwise, it is just a Yellow Granex.

Freshly harvested onions will have a much stronger flavor than those that have mellowed with time.

To avoid watery eyes when chopping large amounts of pungent onions, refrigerate the onions prior to cutting or cut them under running water.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Selecting a quality product

Choose storage onions that are firm and dry with no soft spots. Be sure the neck is dry and closed. Scallions should have crisp, green tops with slender bottoms. It is generally found to be true that, the flatter a sweet onion is, the sweeter it is.

Choose leeks that are firm and slender with clean white necks no more than 2" or 21/2" in diameter. The necks should be straight all the way to the root end (if the bottom is beginning to bulge, it was picked too late and will probably be tough and woody). Tops should be fresh and green, not wilted or torn. If the stalk itself is limp, find another source.

Tips on Storage

Bulb onions can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months. Once cut, onions should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container to prevent their strong aroma from getting into other foods. Sweet onions do best when stored in the refrigerator. They do not have a long life.

Green onions or scallions should be wrapped in a moist paper towel or plastic bag and stored in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Leeks will keep well in the refrigerator, unwashed, for up to one week. Wrap them loosely in plastic wrap to prevent their aroma from being absorbed by other foods and to help retain moisture.

Tips on cooking

Use onions as a flavor enhancer in soups, stews, casseroles, and pasta. The longer you cook onions, the milder they become.

Leeks should be cleaned well because soil can collect between the leaves and work its way down the stem. Remove the roots at the base and the dark portions of the leaves. All of the leaves are edible but have a stronger, less pleasant flavor than the stalk.

If cooking leeks whole, cut lengthwise from about 1" below where the leaves start to turn green to the top. Turn 1/4 turn and repeat, then spread the leaves apart and wash under cool running water to flush out any soil or debris.

If slicing or chopping, cut as directed in the recipe and place in a bowl of tepid water. Stir the leeks around and then scoop out after the soil or debris has settled to the bottom of the bowl.

Cook leeks only until barely tender — overcooking will turn them soft and slimy. Unless you plunge them in cold water, they will continue to cook after being removed from the heat so keep testing for doneness.

Ways to use:

Cut into rings, dip in batter and deep fry for onion rings
Thread onto skewers with other vegetables and meat or seafood for shish kebabs
Cook until caramelized and serve with pasta or over meat
Make french onion soup
Use leeks in vichyssoise-the classic French cold soup
Add to bread dough or cornbread batter to make hush puppies

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Garlic is native to middle Asia and the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. It is the most pungent of all the members of the onion family. Ancient Egyptians used garlic not only for cooking but also for embalming.

Garlic has extensive medicinal properties including fighting infections by boosting the immune system, cancer prevention, and its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

There are several types of garlic but basically, garlic can be broken down into hard-neck garlic with a thick, unbendable center stem; and soft-neck garlic which is the most common supermarket variety.

Hard-neck varieties are more cold hardy, have a milder flavor, and are preferred by gourmet chefs.

Selecting a quality product

Choose large, plump bulbs that are compact and have unbroken skin. Squeeze the bulb and if it gives under your fingers, don’t buy it.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!


Tips on Storage

Garlic should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Do not refrigerate. Garlic stores well for several months. Garlic may be purchased in braids that are both decorative and useful and can be hung in a suitable place.

Tips on cooking

To peel garlic, place clove flat on a cutting board and lay the flat side of a knife on top, then hit the knife with your hand to split the peel. Finely-chopped or crushed garlic will have the most pungent flavor as, the more exposed surfaces you have, the more flavors you release.

For a milder taste, roast whole garlic wrapped tightly in aluminum foil at 350 degrees for an hour or until soft.

Ways to use:

Sauté and use in cooking
Garlic butter, garlic bread
Add to mashed potatoes


Bloomin' Onion (Outback's Blooming Onion):

1/3 c cornstarch; more if needed
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp garlic; minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
24 oz beer
4 to 6 Vidalia or Texas sweet onions,; 4" diameter

Seasoned flour; as needed*

2 cups flour
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

Creamy Chili Sauce**:

1 pint mayonnaise
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup tomato chili sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne

Mix cornstarch, flour and seasonings until well blended. Add beer, mix well. Cut about 3/4" off top of onion and peel. Cut into onion 12 to 16 vertical wedges but do not cut through bottom root end. Remove about 1" of petals from center of onion. Dip onion in seasoned flour and remove excess by shaking. Separate petals to coat thoroughly with batter. Gently place in fryer basket and deep-fry at 375 to 400~ 1-1/2 minutes. Turn over and fry 1-1/2 minutes longer or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place onion upright in shallow bowl and remove center core with circular cutter or apple corer. Serve hot with Creamy Chili Sauce.

*SEASONED FLOUR - Combine flour, paprika, garlic powder, pepper and cayenne and mix well.

*CREAMY CHILI SAUCE - Combine mayo, sour cream, chili sauce and cayenne and mix well.

Grilled Onions BBQ Style

3 medium onions, sliced thick
2 1/2 stick butter or you can substitute bacon fat
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wrap the onions and butter in heavy-duty aluminum foil and seal tightly. Place right on coals or hottest part of the grill for about 15 minutes. Turn a couple times. If you would like to put a little BBQ sauce in the foil, be careful it tends to burn easier and only add it toward the end of the grilling.

Garlic Pasta

Quick and easy to make, this delicious dish goes wonderfully with
roast meat and a fresh vegetable salad.

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced lengthwise into thirds
2 tablespoons butter
˝ cup chopped green onions
5 cups cooked pasta (your favorite)
Seasoned salt (Opt)

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil to 200 degrees and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic starts to brown at the edges. Add the butter and cook until the garlic turns golden brown. Add the onions and pasta, toss, and cook until the pasta is thoroughly heated, season if desired. Serve Immediately.

Fettuccine With Leeks

Yield: 4 Servings

1/2 pound fettuccine
2 tbsp butter
2 lg leeks; halved & thinly sliced
1/4 pound ham; cut into strips
1 red pepper; seeded & cut into strips
1 cup thickened cream
Black pepper to taste

1. Cook fettuccine in boiling water in a large saucepan following packet directions. Drain, set aside and keep warm.

2. Heat butter in a large frying pan. Cook leeks for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add ham and capsicum. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in cream, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add fettuccine to pan. Toss to combine. Season to taste with black pepper and serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic Cheesecake
Serves 8-12, as an appetizer

25 Ritz crackers, rolled to crumbs (should be 1 1/2 cups)
5 tbsp melted butter
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
3-4 fat cloves garlic, roasted and cooled, squeezed out
Pinch salt, pepper, sugar
1/4 t each thyme, chopped parsley, rosemary
Heavy cream, if needed to thin (optional)

Preheat oven to 325deg. Mix first two ingredients and pat firmly into bottom and 1/3 up the sides of a 9" springform pan. Using blender or food processor, beat next six ingredients until very smooth and satiny. Pour into crust. Bake 20 minutes. Turn off oven and leave pie in for another hour to cool. Cover with foil and chill before serving.

Notes: This can be made in a 1/2 sheet pan, for squares. Neufchatel cheese can be used, to lower the fat and calorie content. You can vary the herbs to your preference, but you need something that will stand up to the garlic flavor.

Crockpot Vichyssoise

Yield: 6 Servings

5 medium potatoes; sliced
4 leeks sliced*
1 large chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Chopped chives**

*Use white and lightest green parts of Leeks.

**Fresh or Frozen Chives.

1. Combine all ingredients except last three in cooker. Cook on high 3 hours.

2. Puree mixture in blender or food mill and return to cooker.

3. Add milk and cream, stir well, and heat to boiling-about 1 hour on high.

4. Chill.

5. Serve with chives.

NOTE: If chilled soup is too thick for your taste, add additional milk or cream.

NOTE: May be doubled for 6 quart cooker.

Creamed Onions

20 small white onions, peeled - about 3 lbs.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cup milk
1 small onion, studded with 3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c minced chives

Boil the onions in salted water to cover until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well. Melt the butter in another saucepan, add the flour to the butter, and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and continue whisking until the sauce is smooth. Then add the cloved onion, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Add the onions to the cream sauce and reheat. Add salt and pepper, garnish with the chives, and serve.

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