I know it’s bad form to start a food column promising to highlight a new ingredient every week, and to repeat (the only) one the second week, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
I hope you liked the fish tacos. I believed I was going simple by recommending that you barely cook the veggies, but I can get even more simple. Again, I promise you.
As a vegetarian, I have to be inventive or I end up not getting enough nutrients. While eating local and in-season is a healthy goal, it requires balance, like all things. Because Vidalia onions, while not local, are amazing but only available for a short time, I absolutely gorge myself on them and, in theory, am sick of them by the time they’re becoming hard to find. (Not really. Come back, Vidalias, I always say. And they do — a year later.) But if I ate them and only them, I’d be missing out on nutrients from other fruits and vegetables.
Not to mention, how many different ways can you eat onions while keeping it simple?
Oh, foodie friends. So many ways. Hence “Green onions, the sequel.”
Buying tip: A bulk or wholesale deal on fresh, local produce is only a deal if you know you can cook the produce more than one way, or preserve it. That produce won’t stay “fresh” for longer than a week or two, so you have to 1) know how to store it (back to that in a minute), and 2) commit to multiple meals in a short period of time using that produce.
So how did I use up the rest of that big bag o’ green onions without just mass chopping-and-sprinkling them onto every meal since the fish tacos?
I stir fried them whole.
I rinsed them, cut the root off, threw them into a frying pan with some other veggies and olive oil and stir fried them for about as long as it takes to microwave one of those 90-second rice packets I’m in love with. (Seriously. Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice packets in basmati, brown, wild, long grain, jasmine and white varieties, some with flavors like garden vegetable and “New Orleans style” with red beans. Three nights a week, at least.)
I highly recommend adding halved button mushrooms and slivers of carrot to this mixture, like I did, but if you have other spring veggies you need to use up, go for it.
The onions are so sweet and tender, but they have this little pop to them when you crunch down on the bulb. Use just a little salt, and don’t go overboard on the olive oil or they’ll become soggy.
Roasting them works well, too, if you feel like turning on the oven. Once you’ve cleaned them and sliced off their roots, toss them in olive oil and a dash of salt and spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet. Twenty minutes (or until browning) at 400 degrees or so will bring out that sweetness even more than stir frying. Roasting is my favorite way to enjoy vegetables.
The point of talking about green onions twice is that they aren’t just a garnish, or the addition of a little crunch and flavor. They can BE the crunch and flavor if you rethink how to prepare them. And this particular rethink is so easy, I don’t even have an actual “recipe” for you. Chop veggies, stir fry, rinse, repeat.
Storage tip: The best way I’ve found to store green onions is in a plastic bag with some paper towels wrapped around them. The bag keeps them from wilting from the cold fridge air, but the paper towels soak up extra moisture that would cause the onions to get slimy and rot. If the onions are on their way out, strip off the browning and/or slimy layers, wash them well, slice them and freeze them in an airtight container until you can use them.
Or, you know, stir fry or roast them whole.