Alhambra's Sunday Morning Farmer's Market
Green onions are one of the most ubiquitous veggies you'll come across at the Alhambra Farmer's Market this time of year. With culinary uses across many cultures, it makes sense to see such widespread availability in our multicultural municipality.
But what I've always been confused about green onions are the multitude of names and terms. Green onions, spring onions, scallions, green shallots, onion sticks: I always assumed they constituted the same thing. And, technically, I wasn't wrong, but I was definitely missing out on the subtleties of market produce.
To simplify, young onions encompass all immature onions with green stalks, which can then be broken down to three specific kinds: scallions, green onions and spring onions. Scallions are the least mature with very mild flavor. Green onions are more mature, with a slightly more developed bulb and flavor. Spring onions are larger, have a much rounder bulb and have an even stronger onion bite compared to all the other young onions. (If you're still confused and need a bit more information, check out the post over at Harvest Wizard, as well as the topic at the Chowhound discussion boards).
The best thing about spring onions is that you get the best of both worlds: the bulb has the pungency of a regular onion, the greens have a more pronounced scallion flavor. You can use them in every recipe that calls for an onion or a scallion. You can thinly slice them into a salad, grilled/roasted and dipped in a romesco sauce, slowly caramelized and topped on everything or even mixed into mashed potatoes. My favorite is to make green onion pancakes (Korean pajon or Chinese cong you bing).
Flavorful but without the bite Green GarlicAnother big welcome sign of spring is the appearance of green garlic. Also known as spring, new or young garlic, these are the immature bulbs and stalks of garlic that grow very similar to green onions. Like young onions, they are pulled before the bulb has time to fully mature (I should clarify that garlic is indeed in the same family as onions). They have the same garlicky sweetness but without the overbearing pungency (again, best of both worlds). The greens are very fragrant, and can be used just like chives. The thing I love about green garlic is the flexibility of the ingredient. It can be used in any of the previously mentioned spring onion recipes, but will add a heavenly sweet garlic flavor. Use them in a Lamb stew, or an obscenely delicious potato gratin with bacon and green garlic (second to last recipe towards the bottom of the page). For something more simple but just as savory sweet, roast/grill stalks until caramelized, and consume until summer rolls around.
Do you have any spring onion/garilc recipes? What is your favorite spring produce? Let us hear about it in the comments or send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org!