Red Onion (Anethum graveolens) is a member of the Allium genus, Allium cepa/allicum) grown for their edible parts: the bulb (onion), the white part around the bulb (clove), the seeds (adder seed) and the purple, fleshy roots (rocotyle) used in Asian cuisine. I use them all the time! What's not to love? Besides the fact that they are so versatile and tasty, they are surprisingly nutritious - a real complement to wholefoods.
Red onions contain an amazing amount of carotene - more than carrots, parsley, turnips or potatoes. And the yellow, pink or orange colors of the onion bulbs add even more value. In addition, they are great in soups, stews and casseroles. The seeds can even be added to the chili sauce to make it more intense! You can also use them in your fried foods - just remember to soak them first and cook slowly to avoid burning.
When you're ready to buy or prepare your red onion, always choose the ones that are small and flat like the big bulb varieties. This will make them easier to hold and smaller pieces will go a lot better with sauces and dressings. Keep in mind that the seeds are what give the onion its reddish color, and they will stay that way longer if they are kept in a dry environment (away from heat and light). You can store them in a container, covered with a damp towel, for up to a week.
To cook, you simply need to steam or fry them. When they are almost completely cooked, pull the bulbs from the stems and leave them on a plate. They will continue to cook and will pop open a bit. If you want, you can remove the seeds and use them in salads, vegetable dishes or any other dish that calls for cooked vegetables but makes a large mess. If you are not sure how they'll taste, it's best to leave them in the original package to see if they grow redder when you cook them.
When they come in contact with heat, red onions lose their color and firmness. Heat also kills off other enzymes that work along with vitamin C to protect against dry skin and deterioration of the flesh. If you're concerned about wasting food, purchase onions that are labeled "air-dried." These types have already gone through the process of heating with very low temperatures and are usually much more resistant to heat than the "dry" varieties that you buy at the supermarket.
The next time you are out shopping for an onion, look for a container that is airtight and has a tight lid so that the bulbs don't get stuck to each other. When you're ready to use them, remove the seeds from the tops and slice them crosswise until you arrive at a consistency that you like. That way, you'll be able to sprinkle the slices on top of your baked potatoes or polenta and have them coated in the oil while they still have some green on the outer edge. It's a great way to use up the last bit of onions that you have in your kitchen.
For the greatest use of onion seeds, let them roast in a dry frying pan until they are almost burning. Remove them from the heat and place them in your vacuum sealable plastic bag. Seal them up and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. You can toss a couple of these in with your meals as well, such as vegetable dishes with creamy grits that have been seasoned with garlic. If you're looking for a way to add a bit of flavor to potato dishes, consider grilling the onions with the stems on. The oils from the greens will protect the skin of the onion from getting burned, while the oils from the meat will enhance the flavor.
Red onion is a healthy choice that has a lot going for it. It adds flavor, is low in fat, and has plenty of vitamin C. If you like to eat a spicy dish, you can always throw a few of these in with your next meal. They pair wonderfully well with spicy foods and can be used instead of capsicum for Mexican food as well. If you love onion dishes but you don't much like the heat, consider buying Red Onion Seeds so that you can make your own version of paprika. Add them to all of your meals, and soon you'll realize that onions aren't all bad!