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With the arrival of warm weather, the fresh crunch of spring onions will complement any salad. Identical to the common onion, spring onions offer a little different taste, as they are harvested prematurely for a milder flavor than a regular onion.
Even though most of us use them interchangeably, there really is a difference between spring onions and green onions. Green onions are harvested before a bulb has formed, whereas a spring onion is allowed to form a small bulb before plucking.
Also known as shallots, spring onions have a more robust and well-rounded flavor than a regular onion. The combination of sliced shallots, garlic and olive oil forms the base for many sauces.
Cooking with spring onions
Because of their mild flavor and nice crunch, spring onions are best used as a garnish. They go well with rice, pasta dishes, fish and most salad mixes, adding color and texture to any dish. Many Asian-style soups incorporate cooked shallots.
Spring onions should be washed thoroughly in cold water. To keep them crisp, just place them in a shallow plastic/glass container filled with water the same day you plan to use them. Try cutting off the green tops of the onions and then cut thin, lengthwise pieces about 3/4-inch up from the bottom. Put the onion slivers into water and watch them curl up, making a fancy garnish.
Spring Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
This fantastic spring salad uses apples, onions, artichokes, cucumbers, celery, green olives, avocados and even grapes dressed with a flavorful lime vinaigrette.
2 tart green apples, cored and thinly sliced
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of one lime
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
6 shallots, sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chunked
2 stalks celery hearts, thinly sliced
8 pitted green olives, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. horseradish
2 Tbsps. light olive oil
4 Tbsps. cilantro or parsley, minced
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1 cup seedless green grapes
2 Tbsps. water
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsps. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar; mix well.
For the salad, coat sliced apples in a large bowl with lime juice to prevent discoloring. Add next eight ingredients. Coat well with olive oil, cover and chill one hour.
To serve, coat avocado slices with lemon or lime juice or the lime vinaigrette. Arrange over salad with the grapes and sprinkle with cilantro. Makes 8 servings.
Asparagus, Spring Onion and Bleu Cheese Tart
Your guests will be asking for more once they taste these brown, crisp tarts with asparagus, onion and Bleu cheese.
4 bunches asparagus, tips and pieces, blanched
1 qt. julienne red onion, well caramelized
1 bunch thyme, stripped
2 lbs. Bleu cheese, crumbled
24 7-inch rounds, 1/8-inch thick tart pastry
Arrange a bed of onions on each dough round, leaving one-inch of dough showing. Divide asparagus tips equally among tarts and arrange on top of onions; repeat with Bleu cheese. Season with thyme leaves and black pepper.
Fold edges of tarts over edges of filling to form a rustic edge, leaving a 4-inch opening in middle of tart. Place on parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in a 400-degree oven until well browned and crisp. Makes 24 tarts.
Liven up your breakfast with this quick and easy omelet-type dish.
2 Tbsps. olive or vegetable oil
5 shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Preheat a 9-inch nonstick fry pan on medium heat. Add oil. Add shallots. Stir occasionally until the shallots are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Spread the shallots evenly over the bottom of the pan. In a bowl, beat the eggs well and add salt and pepper to taste; pour into the pan; cover and cook until the center of the frittata has set and is no longer runny, about 8 to10 minutes. Allow the frittata to rest for one minute.
Place a serving plate over the pan and turn the pan over quickly onto the serving plate. Cut frittata into 4 servings and garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Baby Red Potatoes with Mint and Spring Onions
A creamy onion and mint sauce adds to the flavor of these baked potatoes.
2-1/2 lbs. (10-12 small) red potatoes, unpeeled
3 cups cream (or cream and milk, mixed)
6-8 spring onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly steam the potatoes for 5-6 minutes, and then transfer to a lightly greased ovenproof dish. Steaming is not essential, but it will shorten the cooking time in the oven and improve the flavor of the dish. Pour the cream, spring onions and mint over the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Makes 4 servings.
Fried Pork with Spring Onions
Pork is marinated in rice wine and soy sauce and then stir-fried with spring onions in this quick and easy stir-fry. Serve with rice or noodles and steamed vegetables.
1/2 lb. pork, shredded
1 Tbsp. rice wine
1 lb. spring onions
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix pork with the soy sauce and rice wine. Wash spring onions and cut into 2-inch lengths. Heat the oil and sauté the pork. When pork changes color, add spring onions and salt to taste. Mix well and remove from heat before spring onions begin to give off juice. Serve hot with rice. Makes 4 servings.