by Sarah Janes Ugoretz
|Shallots and Cipollini Onions|
You may have noticed by this point—especially if you’ve been a Harmony Valley Farm CSA member—that we’re really into onions. Our belief is that year-round, daily consumption of onions is not only important for our health but also for the flavor profile of the foods we prepare. These two convictions guide what Farmer Richard refers to as “our onion line-up.” Over the course of the season, an onion in some shape or form (we include garlic, leeks and ramps in this group, too) is included in each CSA box and, if it’s market season, you’ll be sure to find an assortment of these on our stand. Health-wise, the benefits of consuming onions are undeniable. Research suggests that onions may prevent blood clotting, lower your heart rate and guard against cardiovascular disease. Nutritionally, the presence of vitamin C makes onions an excellent source of dietary fiber and folic acid. Meanwhile, they also provide you with healthy doses of calcium, iron and quercetin—an antioxidant compound that, in layman’s terms, helps ward off disease. For the sake of comparison, onions contain approximately three times the amount of quercetin than kale, a widely regarded super food! It’s important to note that the potential nutritional benefits are most present in strong onions, which have a greater concentration of sulfur compounds (these are the culprits that make you tear-up when slicing and dicing your onions). The good news is, however, that the nutritional benefits remain largely intact regardless of whether you’re eating your onions raw or cooked—though some research does suggest that the potential benefits may be more effective when onions are consumed raw.
|Onions growing on raised beds with silver mulch to deter thrips|
manicuring” component. We forego mechanization when it comes to our onions because using machinery can, and often does, cause damage, which means we wouldn’t be able to provide you with the same high quality onions that we currently do.
|Egyptian Walking onions with radishes|
|Potato onions in the field|
|Onions being harvested by Harmony Valley Farm crew|
|Harvested onions in the greenhouse|
Creamy Sweet Onion Soup
Recipe adapted from a recipe for Creamy Vidalia Onion Soup
featured at www.allrecipes.com.
6 sweet onions (about 6 cups sliced onions)
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks, beaten
1½ tsp paprika
Ground black pepper, to taste
⅛ tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions; saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in flour and salt and mix thoroughly. Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
3. When onions are very tender, stir in milk and cream. Heat through. Remove ½ cup soup and put it in a small bowl. Slowly mix the egg yolks into the soup in the small bowl. Once the egg yolks are incorporated, pour the milk and egg mixture slowly into the remainder of the soup in the pan. Heat through, but do not allow the soup to boil.
4. Stir in paprika, black pepper and hot pepper sauce (optional). Serve hot, and garnish with chopped parsley.
Green Lentils, Rice and Caramelized Onion
Recipe borrowed from Salma Hage’s book The Lebanese Kitchen.
1 cup green lentils
4 Tbsp olive oil
5 small onions, sliced
½ cup instant (easy cook) rice, rinsed
2 tsp salt
½ tsp tround cumin
½ tsp seven spices seasoning*
½ tsp black pepper
1. Put the lentils in a pan, pour in water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan, add the onions, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until caramelized. Add the rice and salt to the pan of lentils, replace the lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Stir in the cumin, seven spices seasoning, pepper and caramelized onions and serve warm.
*Seven Spices Seasoning Mix: You can buy this blend of spices pre-made, or you can make it yourself (see recipe below). It is good to use as a seasoning for sauces, meat, grilled vegetables and more.
Lebanese Seven Spices Seasoning
5 Tbsp ground allspice
3½ Tbsp ground black pepper
3½ Tbsp ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp ground cloves
4 Tbsp ground nutmeg
4 Tbsp ground fenugreek
4 Tbsp ground ginger.
Mix the spices together thoroughly and store in an airtight container in a dark place.