Onion is a vegetable rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Useful for its antibiotic and diuretic properties, the onion is an ally of the bones and the cardiovascular system; let’s find out better! The onion is a common vegetable in the Italian culinary tradition, both for flavoring dishes and as a primary food. What are the benefits, and how to use it in the kitchen?
Onion, Characteristics Of The Plant
The onion is a bulbous plant belonging to the Liliaceae family, including garlic, shallots and chives. It lives underground and is characterized by long green leaves attached to the bulb, the edible part of the plant. Its seasonality depends on the specific onion variety. However, it is a cold-resistant plant but sensitive to climatic solid changes.
Nutritional Values And Calories
100 g of fresh onion provides:
- 28 calories;
- Protein 1 g;
- Lipids 0.1 g;
- Carbohydrates 5.7 g;
- Sugars 5.6 g;
- Fiber 1 g.
There are wide varieties of onion; among the most common in Italy, we find:
- Tropea red onion ;
- Voghera onion ;
- Loretta onions ;
- white onion from Chioggia ;
- Cannara onion ;
- Vatolla onion.
Furthermore, based on the color of the skin, we can distinguish onions in the following ways:
- White onions ;
- golden onions ;
- Red onions.
The white onion has, in fact, a white color both externally and internally and is characterized by a rather intense flavor. This category includes the Barletta onion and the Giarratana onion.
That of the red onion is a less intense variety than the others. Therefore, it can also be eaten raw. The best-known are the Tropea onion, the Genoese red onion, and the Apulian onion from Acquaviva delle Fonti.
The copper onion has a sweet flavor and is versatile in the kitchen. Among the most common coppery onions are the golden onion of Parma, the onion of Milan, the onion of Sermide and the onion of Alife.
In addition to flavoring hot and cold dishes, salad is an excellent ally for health. Let’s see what are the main benefits of onions:
- They are rich in micronutrients, such as vitamin C, folate and potassium ;
- They are rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and quercetin;
- Promote bone health ;
- Lower the risk of getting cancer;
- Promote better blood sugar control.
Therapeutic Use Of Onion
The onion is used for its draining and healing properties, cardiovascular and bone well-being, and anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. However, onions should not be eaten by those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, oesophagitis, gastritis, or other gastrointestinal disorders, as it could accentuate the symptoms.
The Onion In The Kitchen
The onion is a very versatile vegetable; it can be eaten raw or cooked to flavor first courses, main courses, salads, side dishes, sauces, sandwiches, focaccias, wraps, savory pies or even as a main ingredient. Those who do not digest onion well should prefer it cooked, avoiding frying it but cooking it in water until it is wilted.
Recipes With Onions
Many recipes involve the use of onion; let’s see which are the most common:
- Soffritto: made with onion, celery and carrot, helpful in flavoring many dishes or ingredients, including sauces or soups, better if cooked in a bit of water;
- Onion omelet: it is an excellent and nutritious second course, valid for a quick meal, for example, and also as a filling for a sandwich to be served with vegetables;
- sweet and sour onions (or caramelized onions): a delicious side dish made with onions, sugar and vinegar, also helpful in flavoring a sandwich or accompanying a second course of meat or fish;
- Baked onions: easy, practical and tasty; blanch them and then cut them in half and leave them to brown in the oven, flavoring them with salt, pepper and spices:
- Roasted onions are prepared quickly on the grill and can be used as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or to enrich a salad.
The Onion Soup
Onion soup is a typical dish of the Tuscan tradition, also known as “carpaccio “. It is a dish based on the following:
- Stewed onions;
The onions are finely chopped and left to soak in water and vinegar overnight. The following day, it will be necessary to stew the onions in a pan with a bit of oil and a ladle of vegetable broth and continue cooking by adding about a spoon of vegetable broth as it is absorbed until the onions are thoroughly cooked, which will take about 45 minutes. When cooked, you can flavor the onion soup with:
- Salt ;
- pepper ;
- oil ;
And accompany it with toasted bread.
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