Spotlight: Scallions

I have a recommendation for you. While not a cookbook per se, Jo Robinson's 2013 book Eating on the Wild Side made me think of vegetables not only in terms of their seasonabilty and beauty, flavor and nutrition, but also about their health benefits relative to themselves. I'm talking about lettuce compared to lettuce, broccoli compared to broccoli. Vegetables that are darker in color or more pungent, more strongly flavored, for example, are often signaling to us that they are more nutritious than their milder, paler cousins.

I'm going to quote Jo Robinson's entire section on scallions in full here because it's so interesting. 

Scallions (Allium fistulosum) go by many names, including green onions, spring onions, and salad onions. They have slim white bulbs, dark green tubular leaves, and a tassel of roots. Scallions, like chives, should be eaten soon after you purchase or harvest them. If you're going to keep them for a few days, place them in a plastic bag that you have perforated with pinpricks. 

Despite appearances, scallions are not miniature onions (Allium cepa) but a species unto themselves. New studies have shown that they have an incredible 140 times more phytonutrients than common white onions. The green portions are a more concentrated source of phytonutrients than the bulbs. This highly nutritious allium shows promise in reducing the risk of caner. According to a 2002 survey, men who consumed at least a third of an ounce (ten grams) of scallions per day had a 50 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those who went without scallions. Interestingly, scallions come closest to wild onions in appearance and nutrition. It is often the case that the most phytonutrient-rich varieties of fruits and vegetables closely resemble their wild ancestors; in nature, function follows form. 

You can use scallions in place of onions in most dishes. Add chopped scallions to raw hamburger before you form the patties. Add them to pasta dishes, soups, egg dishes, pizza toppings, salsa, sandwiches, and dips. IF you add them to cooked dishes at the last minute, they add a pleasing crunch. 

Here are several ways our family made a point of getting our green onions in 2016.

  • chopped into an eggy green tart
  • in green soup
  • sliced for taco salad
  • topping everything
  • salsa verde
  • green curry with brown rice
  • roasted with garlic + olive oil
  • in broccoli orzo salad
  • with skillet potatoes
  • in kimchi soup + oven potatoes
  • in an omelette

Another inspiration: this onion marinade is a nod to James Beard-winning chef Michael Solomonov, who uses it to grill lamb and poultry over charcoal. You can marinate anything with it, from eggplant to tofu. It doesn't have to be grilled, but cooking tones down the assertively oniony flavor, and even helps to render some nutrients more accessible to us. 

Scallion Marinade

1 bunch scallions

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sea salt

Chop the roots off the onions, then chunk the onions into two-inch lengths. Pour the oil, vinegar, and salt into the blender, then toss in the lengths of onion. Puree until smooth. Smear this marinade on meats or vegetables to be sauteed, simmered, or grilled.

Before adding any raw meat to this sauce, we like to reserve a few drops to add to salad dressings throughout the week. The slight onion flavor adds depth to classic vinagrettes as well as creamy dressings. 

Mary BrowerComment