How to cook onions
Onions are a universal produce item. I love thinly sliced red onions in salads and sandwiches. I use almost every variety as a base for stews, casseroles, and sauce. And no homemade stock is complete without onions. I also love grilling and roasting them alongside other vegetables.
How to buy onions
Look for onions that are firm with no soft spots or cuts. I like to check the roots carefully, as it is a good place to look for mold. The skin should be tight around the onion and unpeeled, the odor shouldn’t be too pungent.
How to store onions
Store onions in a cool, dark spot away from potatoes. I have a dedicated drawer for my onions, shallots, and garlic. Onions may sprout when stored long enough, simply cut off the sprout and use the onion as normal. The onion might also develop black mold. Peel the affected layers off and rinse off the remaining spots.
One of my not-so-secrets to flavorful vegetarian cooking is almost always using an allium, including garlic, scallions, leeks, shallot, and onions. Cooked onion provides a rich and flavorful base for other ingredients to mingle with, and of course, caramelized onions can be a lovely addition to grilled cheese.
One little hiccup you may have run into while cutting onions is an unprompted tear session streaming down your face. I swear by Deborah Madison’s tip: chill the onions in the refrigerator for a few hours and 10 minutes in the freezer. Also, a sharp knife is a must.
As for leftover onions, I store quarters in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The flavors of onions can leech into other items and before you know it, your butter may taste like onions (which makes for a strange companion for jelly on toast).
Red Onions: As mentioned above, I love thinly sliced red onions in salads and on pizza. These onions tend to be stronger in flavor, but still have a mildly sweet taste. I use red onions for roasting and grilling as well.
White + Yellow Onions: These are the backbone onions. They have consistent flavor, which means I’m always reaching for them to use in soups, stews, gratins, and grain bowls. White onions can be slightly stronger compared to white, but I tend to use them interchangeably. I do not, however, use them raw.
Sweet Onions: Are seasonal. They do not keep in storage like red/yellow/white onions, but are incredible when you can find them. The mild, sweet flavor is great raw, or I’ll use in soups where I want a tamed onion flavor.