Onions are members of the family allium, a genus of spicy plants that also includes garlic, leeks and chives, and other species. Even among onions there are many different types, each with their own special qualities; each onion has a particular personality.
In general, onions are a base ingredient in many recipes. They are essential for any kitchen. Soups, sandwiches, salads, stews, and rice dishes benefit from its distinctive flavor in all its cuts.
In stores or supermarkets, the most common to find are the so-called “storage onions”. Separated by color (white, yellow and red) are pieces that, after being harvested, are placed to dry and for this reason, they are will keep in the kitchen for months if stored correctly.
In terms of flavor intensity, the white onion is considered the most intense, the purple the mildest, and the yellow falls somewhere in between. They are generally interchangeable, and switching between them won’t ruin a dishif its taste or appearance is slightly altered.
There is often confusion about the purple onions versus white onions. The former are usually smaller than the latter, and have redder skin. Both types of onions have almost similar flavors. But there are some key differences, more than just size and flavor.
You will often see the purple onions raw or pickled, either in summer dishes such as Greek salad or orange salad with olives. Same to prepare a Peruvian ceviche or a Flammkuchen, a German pizza recipe with red onion, goat cheese and pear. The obvious attraction of a red onion is its color, with a deep purple hue which provides a good visual contrast.
Preferred in Asian and European cuisine for its distinctive flavor and vibrant color. Red onions char to perfection on the grill when cut into wedges, and their internal texture becomes sticky (even caramelized) instead of mushy, as white and yellow onions do. In rare cases, they can stain and discolor certain ingredients, such as eggs and potatoes, bluish-gray.
For their part, the white onions they are more intense than their purple companions. Responsible for flavoring meals and highlighting other foods, there are few recipes that do not require or need this bulb. The white onion is a universal ingredient in kitchens of the world. For example, it is used in the French onion soup and the emblematic fuggazeta or onion pizza that is so widely consumed in Argentina. Often works as a garnish or for add freshness to Central American and Latin cuisines, such as chicken fajitas with vegetables, pico de gallo or on top of some huevos rancheros. A trick to lighten the intensity of the bulb is to cut it into thin slices and leave it to soak in cold water for a hour while the rest of the ingredients are ready. This will help soften the taste and heat drastically.
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About color, the flavonoid quercetin (plant pigment) is found in both white and purple onions. The outer, dry layers of the onion have a higher concentration of this type of flavonoid than the inner layers. The color of the red onion is distinctive, with an attractive crimson color that creates an interesting contrast in the final dish. Red onion has more quercetin than white onion, which makes it more vibrant.
He type of onion what you use will depend the flavor and color you are looking for on your plate. Whether you are looking for a mild onion for a salad or a strong onion for a soup, you can take advantage of the benefits of each for a better result.
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