Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Chives, Shallots, Spanish and Pearl Onions

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

I have already written about yellow onions, sweet Vidalia onions, purple onions, and scallions, but there are still a lot more onion choices out there! Like potatoes and apples, you have to “know your onions” to pick out the right one for your particular recipe.

Today I’m going to talk about chives, shallots, Spanish onions, more sweet onions, and pearl onions.

The delicate chive is actually an herb. You’ve probably had it diced really fine on a baked potato.

They look like little cousins of the green onion, minus the white hairy end!

They have a very delicate flavor and are often eaten raw on salads or as a garnish. Like scallions (also known as green onions), chives should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should keep for almost a week.

Shallots look like they should belong to the garlic family instead of the onion family. Dry shallots have a thin papery skin and actually cluster together like cloves in a head of garlic.

They can range in color from brown, grey, white, rose and purple. You often find shallots in vinaigrette and sauce recipes. They have a mild onion flavor and, like garlic, they can have a “bite” (or really sharp taste) when eaten raw. When cooking shallots they will turn bitter if you let them get browned!

Chances are, you were eating Spanish onions the last time you had onion rings. They are really big onions with a lovely, caramel colored skin.

Their mild, sweet taste makes them perfect for adding a big, raw slice to a hamburger. Like all dry-skinned onions, they should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated place; not in the refrigerator. (By way of contrast, all onions, once they are cut, should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and indeed stored in the refrigerator!)

Sweet onions are just that – sweet! They have a high water and sugar content, which means they don’t keep as long as a yellow onion. You really have to look at the signs at the grocery store to know if you are buying a sweet onion. It’s hard to tell which is which, just by looking at them.

Purple, White, Sweet and Spanish

Some sweet onion names include: Maui Sweet, OSO Sweet, Vidalia, 1015 SuperSweet, Sweet Imperial, and SpringSweet.

Pearl Onions are the small, sweet, mild onions you often have in a casserole. (I used them in my Beef Stew video)

Frozen pearl onions are a huge time saver and are delicious. They are all peeled and ready to go. You can also find pearl onions in a jar, which are also very good.

You can buy fresh white, yellow, or red pearl onions. They are sweet, crisp, and just absolutely delicious but a bit of a pain to peel. (How to Peel Pearl Onions)

When they plant these onions they pack them in very tightly so they are normally only grow to about one inch in diameter.

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