Last week, as I roasted shallots along with the garlic I was using for bruschetta, I thought about how many onion alternatives there are. While I do use yellow onions, I’m a big proponent of using onion alternatives.
Raw, yellow onions have a sharp taste that I don’t generally like in sandwiches or salads, though I know that others do enjoy slices of onion on their bagels and lox or cut up in salad. Even in my orange-onion salad, I prefer sweet or red onions to yellow ones.
When you yearn for a slight tang, like an onion but not so overpowering, where can you turn?
How about to a red onion or one of the many sweet varieties named after places where they are grown – Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla sweets? Or shallots?
Leeks are also a great alternative. Have you tried vichyssoise? I’m a fan of Julia Child’s version. It’s simple but not plain. Whether you prefer it warm or chilled, leeks add depth to the flavor without any of the harshness of yellow onions.
Scallions, also known as green onions, are another onion alternative. You’ll find them frequently in Asian dishes and tossed on top of salads or Mexican dishes. Speaking of Mexican food, my friend Pati Jinich recommends using white onions instead of yellow ones in her Mexican recipes.
Finally, how about the small white onions known as pearls? Peeled and dropped whole into stew, they keep their shape while imparting a soft, onion flavor.
I’ll highlight these onion alternatives future posts and show you a few ways to mellow out yellow onions. Meanwhile, try roasting a shallot the same way we roasted heads of garlic for bruschetta. Then see how many ways you can find to use the soft and savory-sweet vegetable that results.