The Mighty Onion
The mighty onion is a kitchen workhorse!
As a member of the allium family (along with garlic and leeks), onions are a rich source of nutrients that benefit the cardio-vascular system. Studies have shown their nutrient profile to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides as well as protect the heart and blood vessels. Additionally, the allium family has been credited with anti-cancer properties.
As important as this is (especially considering their wide availability and low cost), I love the noble onion for the flavor profile it brings to the table! Leave it raw and enjoy a powerful, spicy twist to your dish. Sauté them in a small amount of olive oil or even broth, and taste the sweetness they bring. Allow them to slowly caramelize over low heat with frequent movement (so they don't burn) and enhance the sweetness even further (think French Onion Soup). YUMMMMM!
No matter what you are cooking, it is important that the pieces be very close in size. Not only does this provide a uniform look , more importantly, it allows the food to cook at a uniform rate, so it's all done together, rather than small pieces burning while larger pieces get underway. Make sense? So here are some tips on getting a nice uniform dice to a whole (or half) onion:
- Trim off the sprout end (that's the opposite of the root end). DON'T trim the root end off!
- Stand the onion on the newly trimmed end with root end up and slice the whole thing through from root down to cutting board.
- Working with one half at a time, peel away the outer layers that are either skin or tougher.
- Lay one onion half flat on the cut side, root end away from you.
- Make lengthwise cuts from root to tip – the width varies according to the size of the dice you want. Do not cut through the root – leave it in tact so that you could pick the whole thing up as one piece by the root.
- Turn the half 90 degrees and slice across the lengthwise cuts you just made (width of slices according to the size cuts you want).
VOILÀ! A perfect dice!
Can't stop practicing? (the vision of Meryl Streep as Julia Child comes to mind) – portion them out by the cup or whole/half onion, then package them up in freezer safe containers, ready to grab when your next recipe calls for diced onion.