TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Just thinking of onions can bring tears to your eyes; but you no longer have to cry because you’re confused about which type of onion to use! With a variety of onions available year round, each lending a unique flavor profile, you may wonder how to properly incorporate them into your cooking.
Below are the most common varieties of onions and some tips on how and when to use them.
Yellow onions are the most common variety of onion and will store the longest. They are large golden globes which have a strong, sweet and slightly nutty flavor when cooked. Yellow onions can be used in most every dish and are best for caramelizing.
White onions have a mild sweet flavor and due to their cell structure, do not store as long as other onion varieties. White onions are commonly found in Spanish or Mexican cuisine and are often added to white sauces, pasta and potato dishes.
Red onions are known for their large size and sweet flavor. Since red onions have a sweet flavor without the addition of cooking, they are the perfect onion to add raw to salads and sandwiches.
Scallions, also known as green onions, have a pleasant mild flavor. Both the green stalks and white bulbs of scallions can be consumed. Scallions are most often eaten raw in salads or used as a garnish for soups, stir-frys and potatoes.
Shallots, often confused with garlic because of their similar size and shape, are purple in color. They have a sweet, bold flavor which is intensified when cooked. The unique flavor of shallots pairs well with butter, cream, and citrus; making them a common ingredient found in French cuisine.
Leeks are a member of the onion family. However, unlike onions, leeks do not form bulbs but develop an edible long round stem. Leeks have a distinct flavor and juicy texture. They are often sliced and used in stews, soups and braised meat dishes.
These sausage hoagies are topped with caramelized onions and peppers to create a fast, easy meal.
Sausage and Pepper Hoagies
6 whole Italian chicken or turkey sausage links
1 whole green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 3/4 inch strips
1 whole red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 3/4 inch strips
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoon canola oil
6 large hoagie rolls
6 tablespoon spicy mustard (optional for serving)
2-3 (ounce) feta cheese, crumbled (optional for serving)
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in saute pan over medium high heat. When hot, add sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until cooked through. Remove sausage and set aside.
Add remaining oil to pan. And peppers and onions into a saucepan, sprinkle in the dried Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Stir the mixture every few minutes and continue cooking until the peppers and onions start to soften and caramelize slightly — about 8-10 minutes.
Spread mustard on each side of the hoagie roll. Place one sausage link in the hoagie roll, then top with the peppers, onions and feta cheese.
— Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.