Sensational Spring Vegetables
By Shauna Lindzon RD
Are you in the ‘I love onions’ camp or the ‘I hate onions’ camp? I am in the latter but let me explain. I love an onion that has been cooked down until it is caramelized and tastes sweet like sugar, but I really dislike onions in their raw form, unless they are the milder spring onion. I do believe that they have their place in many dishes though. In a bean salad or guacamole, for example, onions definitely add that needed ‘bite’.
Onions are a part of the allium family. This family of vegetables includes garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. They contain sulfur compounds that are shown to lower cholesterol, as well as blood pressure. Garlic in particular has an active compound called allicin. When it is chopped, crushed, or chewed more of this active compound is released. It is activated when it reacts with oxygen. When you are cooking with it, chop the garlic at least 10 minutes before you use it and the allicin will be fully activated and will still provide you with health benefits even when heated. Studies have shown that this compound has many different health benefits for your cardiovascular system as well as cell repair.
Cooking with allium vegetables can be done in so many ways. They offer a unique taste to so many dishes. You can really play around with them and cook them in so many ways. They are great sauteed, caramelized, or used as a garnish. If you don’t love allium vegetables raw, here are some simple, yet delicious ways to cook with them:
- Scallions – Mix them into any Asian inspired soups.
- Garlic – Slice about ½-inch off the top of the bulb. Drizzle the exposed part with extra virgin olive oil and wrap them up in foil or parchment and roast in a 400⁰F oven for about 30-45 minutes until the garlic becomes soft and caramelized. Use the roasted garlic to spread on slices of bread, add to pasta dishes, or as a topping on pizza.
- Leeks – Thinly slice some leeks and sauté them in some butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add some fresh herbs such as thyme. Season with salt and pepper and you have a lovely side dish.
- Shallots – Raw shallots taste great in salad dressing. A trick to dull the sharpness is to cut up the shallots and let them sit in vinegar for about 10 minutes before adding the rest of the dressing ingredients.
- Chives – Chives taste fantastic added to any creamy dressing or dip.
Hopefully I have given you some inspiration to use these culinary powerhouses that can add so much flavour, texture, and aroma to your cooking.
Shauna Lindzon is a dietitian and nutritionist. She is a program developer and nutrition leader at Wellspring Cancer Support Network and enjoys doing virtual nutrition cooking classes and corporate wellness lectures. For more information about Shauna visit shaunalindzon.com and follow her on Instagram @shaunalin.