All in for alliums

Beer battered onion rings 

If the cast iron skillet we discussed yesterday is the workhorse tool of the kitchen, you could argue that the title of workhorse vegetable belongs to the allium family. Whether you're using onions, leeks, shallots, ramps, or garlic, alliums provide the foundation for many dishes in cuisines around the world. Indexed magazine Bon Appétit takes a look at the myriad ways to use alliums as the highlight of a dish.

One of the best ways to showcase onions and garlic is to roast them. Bon Appétit advises us to "scatter green onions in a cast-iron skillet and roast hot and fast for crisp stalks, or pile bulbs in a baking dish and give them the low-and-slow treatment for tender, golden results." If you use a generous amount of butter or oil, the fat will be infused with the flavor of the allium and makes an excellent medium in which to dip a chewy piece of bread.

You can also go one step beyond roasting to blackening - the magazine notes that "charred is the new seared". Put large bulbs of leeks or scallions on the grill until blistered. You will be rewarded with an "earthiness that contrasts with fresh, vegetal flavor" of the vegetable.

Raw onions, when properly handled, can also add zip to a dish. Make sure to shave thinly for use in salads, or dice finely for garnishing soups, tacos, and more. If you soak onions in ice water before adding them to salads, you can reduce any sulfur odor as well as give them a nice crunch.

Of course we can't forget about pickling as a way to prepare alliums. The acids in the brine help to tame the edges of raw onions and garlic and also bring out their sweeter side. Pickling extends the shelf life too - even quick pickles can last for a month or two in the refrigerator.

The EYB Library features thousands of options for these versatile vegetables. Here are a few to get you started:

The best caramelised onion relish from FoodLovers.co.nz
Salt & vinegar potato and onion salad from Food52
Bacon-onion relish from Food Network Magazine
Quick pickled onions from BBC Good Food Magazine  by Cassie Best
Caramelized onion, mushroom & Gruyère tartlets from Brown Eyed Baker
Beer-battered onion rings from Epicurious (pictured top)

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