Does the thought of vegetables make you cry? Donâ€™t worry â€“ if youâ€™re thinking about onions then youâ€™re not alone. The sulfur compounds in onions irritate most peopleâ€™s eyes and nasal passages when they slice onions. Thankfully, onions are a versatile plant that have a variety of culinary uses, and have properties that can be quite beneficial to our health.
What is it?
The onion is a member of the allium family, which also includes shallots, leeks, garlic, scallions and chives. Onions are the most popular of all the allium plants, and have been eaten and used for other purposes for thousands of years.
Onions have a number of different health benefits. They are thought to provide protection against osteoporosis to women going through menopause by destroying the substances that can contribute to the destruction of bone tissue. White onions seem to provide the greatest beneficial effect, although additional study is necessary.
There is some evidence to indicate that the sulfur compounds in onions (the same compounds that are responsible for irritating our eyes when we cut them, and giving us bad breath when we eat them) can help to lower the level of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Onions are also a source of numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese. Of course, the chances are good that you wonâ€™t eat onions in large quantities to add up to a significant source of nutrients (after all, how often will you eat a cup of onions).
The average annual onion consumption throughout the world is approximately 14 pounds per person. Annual consumption in the U.S. is nearly 19 pounds per person. The country with the highest per capita consumption of onions is Libya, at nearly 67 pounds per year.
How to Eat
Onions are a surprisingly versatile vegetable. When eaten raw, they provide a sharp accent to salads and sandwiches. And they can be breaded and fried into onion rings, of course.
When onions are cooked slowly in oil their sugars will caramelize and create a deep, sweet flavor that can be used to top virtually any type of grilled chicken or meat. The sweetness and richness of roasted onions serve as the flavor foundation for French onion soup.
Onions can even be made into a jam that can be used in a number of different dishes, including as a pizza or bread topping, adding it to pasta and omelets, or using it as an accompaniment for many different types of sandwiches.
Once you get past the sharp odor, onions can be a great part of your diet.
Caramelized Onion Smothered Sirloin Steak
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups sweet onion, sliced thin
Â½ teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons beef broth
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
2 (6 ounce) beef sirloin steaks, boneless and 1 inch thick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place 1 tablespoon of butter into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Let the butter melt completely. Add the onions. Stir in the sugar and allow to cook 20 minutes or until caramelized being sure to stir often. Pour in the beef broth and add the thyme. Stir well to incorporate. Cook 3 minutes or until the beef broth is reduced. Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with the salt and pepper. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into another large skillet. Allow the butter to completely melt over medium heat. Add the steaks and cook 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking 3 minutes for a medium rare steak. Adjust cooking times for rare or well done. Remove and place the onions over the steaks before serving.
Savory Onion Muffins
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 cups flour
3 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 medium onions, quartered
Preheat oven to 425. Grease muffin tin.
Add the onions to a food processor and pulse until pureed. Take 2 cups of onion puree and place into a bowl. Add butter, sugar, eggs, salt and sir well. Add the baking powder and flour and again, stir well until smooth. Gently stir in walnuts.
Spoon the muffin mixture into the muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Leave the muffins to cool down for about 10 minutes, then put them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cheesy Carrot Onion Casserole
2 cups carrots, sliced thick
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 stick butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 pound processed cheese, cubed
1 cup buttered bread crumbs
Place a scant amount of water in the bottom of a large saucepan. Place the saucepan over high heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, salt and sugar and mix together well. Bring water to a steady boil. Continue boiling 6 minutes or just until the carrots begin to tender. Drain well in a colander. Place the stick of butter into a saucepan over medium heat and allow the butter to completely melt. Stir in the flour and continue stirring until the flour and butter begin to bubble. Pour in the milk and stir to combine. Carefully fold in the cheese cubes. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring continuously until the cheese has completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Turn the oven temperatur to 375 degrees and allow the oven to heat. Spray the sides and bottom of a large baking dish with a non stick cooking spray. Place the vegetables into the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetables. Sprinkle the entire top with the bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes or until the center begins to bubble.
Beef Patties with Apples and Onions
1 1/2 cup apple butter, divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 pound ground chuck
1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
Butter flavor no stick cooking spray
4 slices processed cheese
4 onion rolls
In a large bowl stir 1/2 cup of the apple butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper together well. Crumble the uncooked ground chuck into the bowl with the apple butter mixture. Coat the meat well. Make 4 patties. Brush the apple and onion slices with the remaining apple butter. Spray the grill grate with the butter non stick cooking spray. Heat the grill to medium high heat. Place the patties, apples and onions on the grill and cover. Grill about 5 minutes per side. When done the meat will no longer be pink and the apples and onions should be tender. Remove the apples and onions. Place a slice of cheese on the top of each patty. Recover and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove the patties. Lightly coat the inside of the onion rolls with the cooking spray. Place on the grill for about 1 minute to toast. Remove the rolls. Place a patty on each roll and top with the apple and onion slices.
Cheesy Creamed Style Onions
16 medium sweet onions
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup American cheese, shredded
Place the peeled in onions in a large saucepan. Cover with water and place on medium high heat. Bring the onions and water to a rolling boil. Continue to boil 8 minutes or until the onions are tender. Drain the onions well and set aside to cool slightly. Place the oil in the pan used to boil the onions. Stir the flour into the oil. Blend in the milk thoroughly. Place the heat on the lowest temperature. Cook stirring continuously until the mixture thickens about 5 minutes. Once the mixture has thickened sprinkle in the cheese. Continue to cook, stirring continuously until the cheese has totally melted. Stir in the onions back into the mixture. Continue cooking 5 minutes or until completely heated through.
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