When it is springtime in the south, we anticipate the first fresh sweet onions, especially Vidalia! These may be used as mature onions or while still green, known as knob or bulb onions. Other fresh sweet onions found at the market might be Bermuda, Walla Walla, Maui or just labeled “sweet onions.” Fresh sweet onions are milder than regular white, yellow or red onions and Vidalias can even be eaten raw like an apple. Onions have many health benefits including a range of phytonutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. A variety of favorite herbs adds to the nutritional value of this quiche. 

 

 

Caramelized Sweet Onion and Herb Quiche

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

1 9-inch deep dish pie crust defrosted or make your own

2 medium to large Vidalia onions (or 5 cups) halved and thinly sliced (with a mandolin if possible)

1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons European butter (Kerry Gold)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup fresh thyme and rosemary chopped

5 large eggs room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or 1/2 milk and 1/2 cream

6 ounces Gruyere cheese grated

2 Tablespoons mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet (12 inch) on medium and add the onions.  Continue to cook on medium heat about 5 minutes until the onions soften.  Then continue on medium to low heat until they are browned and caramelized. You will need to stir often after they start browning.  As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. This may take an hour or so.  Add a little water if necessary if they get too dry.  Season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
  3. Blind bake the pastry at 350º F by covering the bottom with parchment paper and filling with weights. Bake for 10 minutes. After removing, turn down the oven temperature to 325º F.
  4. Put the eggs, cream, gruyere, mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses into the bowl of a food processor and mix until thoroughly blended. Pour into another bowl and mix in the onions, thyme and rosemary.  
  5. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pastry to fill the pan. Spread out the onions and herbs if possible if they are clumped together.
  6. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the quiche is browned and set and a toothpick comes out clean. 
  7. If the crust gets too dark, cover the edges with aluminum foil*
  8. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.  

*To make a foil shield, fold a 12-inch foil square into quarters. With scissors, cut out the center and round off

  the edges to leave a 2-inch-wide ring. Unfold the ring and place over the edge your quiche

 

 

 Adapted from food 52.com

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IN SEASON

 

Sweet Onions – May

 

Evidently, wild onions were a staple food found worldwide in prehistoric diets and were one of the first cultivated crops. Strains of wild onions grew throughout North America and were used extensively by Native Americans for food and medicine. Pilgrims brought onions with them on the Mayflower to be a garden crop. Onions are an allium vegetable along with shallots, scallions, leeks, chives and garlic. There are many onion varieties but all have similar health benefits. Sweet onions including Walla Walla and the southern favorite Vidalia are best enjoyed in spring and summer. This includes Vidalia knob or bulb onions similar to large scallions.  

 

Peak Time: April to July                                                                                       

                                                                                                                    

Average Price: $1.20 each

 

Tips for Selection and Storage: Sweet onions taste so sweet because they have less sulfur and thus less pungency than other onions, which makes you able to taste all the sugar naturallyThis is also why they cause fewer tears as you chop. For a sweet onion to be labeled “Vidalia” it must be grown in a specified region that includes 13 counties and portions of seven others, all in Georgia. There are other seasonal sweet onions like Bermuda, Walla Walla (Washington) and Maui (Hawaii) that are sold by these names also because of where they are grown. Generic sweet onions can be found year-round. Look for medium size onions that have no bruises, cuts, mold or sprouting.  To store, wrap in paper towels and hang in pantyhose tied between each onion in a cool dry place.  You can also store these individually wrapped in a single layer in the refrigerator or in another cool dry place in your house.  These can last for months.  Vidalia knob or other bulb onions are found fresh only in late spring and early summer. For knob or baby sweet onions, look for sturdy green stems. Store these unwashed in damp paper towels in a storage bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.  

 

Tips for Preparation: Sweet onions are an excellent choice for eating raw as in garnishes, salads, dips or sandwiches.  How about a real southern sweet onion sandwich – nothing but mayo, Vidalias and a garden ripe tomato! Of course, roasting or grilling sweet onions also brings out that caramelized onion taste. Yum. Because of their mild taste, sweet onions should not be used if you need a strong onion flavor in your recipe – however, you will also shed more tears!

 

Nutritional Highlights: All onions including sweet onions are good sources of vitamin C, biotin, vitamin B6, manganese and chromium with fair amounts of phosphorus, copper, potassium, thiamin and folate. A medium onion contains 2.8 grams of dietary fiber and only 60 calories. However, the super stars of onions are the phytonutrients. These include flavonoids like quercetin and many sulfur containing compounds that add to the special health properties of the allium family of vegetables like the onion family. These powerful phytonutrients add to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power that vitamin C and manganese provide to maximize the cardiovascular and cancer preventing benefits of onions.