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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Onions a healthy, delicious food

January 19, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Onions provide flavor and also a whole heap of nutrients. You name 'em, onions have 'em.

With only 30 calories per 1/2cup of chopped onions, they provide dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and other key nutrients.

Read up on onions and you'll find that they also help guard against many chronic ailments, including colds and the flu, probably because they contain generous amounts of a flavonoid called quercetin. Studies have been published that show that quercetin protects against cataracts, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Onions also contain a variety of other naturally occurring chemicals known as organosulfur compounds that have been linked to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Is it no wonder, then, that onions are one of the most common cooking ingredients throughout the world? Their texture, color and zest add intrigue to all types of dishes - appetizers to condiments to main entres.

To save money, buy them in large bag quantities. Store them in a cool, dry ventilated place - not in the refrigerator - and not in plastic bags; the lack of air movement reduces their storage life.

Chill them to reduce tears. And use medium heat to saut them; high heat makes them bitter. Bake well a batch of unpeeled onions, when they're caramelized, peeled and slightly salty - hot or cold - delicious! Leave a bowl of them on the kitchen table for snacks.

Good recipes:

CLASSIC ONION SOUP: 8c sliced onions, 6T butter, olive oil or oleo, 4t sugar, 2qts reduced sodium chicken broth, 1/c brandy (optional), S&P to taste, 1/2 baguette French bread, sliced & toasted, grated Romano cheese.

Cook onions in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, in melted butter until tender and golden (about 12-minutes). Add sugar and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add broth, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer 12-minutes. Add brandy and cook 2-minutes longer. Season with S&P. To serve, float toast on bowl of soup sprinkled with cheese. Makes 6 servings.

BEST ONION RINGS: 3 large onions, peeled and trimmed, 1c flour, 1t paprika, 3/4 t salt, 1/4t pepper, 1c non-alcoholic or regular beer, vegetable oil.

Cut onions crosswise into 1/2" slices. Pull apart into rings. Mix flour, paprika, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add beer, stirring with wire whip until foam is gone. BAKED VERSION: Ttoss onions rings with batter and transfer to plate, letting excess drip off. Heat 1T oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place about half the onion rings in single layer in heated skillet and cook until browned, turning once (1/2-minute on each side). Repeat with remaining rings. Transfer to ungreased shallow baking pans or cookie sheets in single layer. Bake at 425 degrees for 6-minutes (until crisp). Makes 6 servings. DEEP-FRIED VERSION: Heat at least 2" oil in deep-fryer for 5-10-minutes at 375 degrees. Drop batter-coated rings into oil. Fry 2-4-minutes, until crisp. Drain on paper towels before serving.

STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS: 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 finely chopped onion, 2c canned tomatoes, drained, 2c grated carrots, 4c cooked lentils, 1t salt, 1/2t pepper, 1/4t marjoram, 1/4t thyme, 1/2c grated Monterey Jack cheese. Oven set at 375 degrees. Cook garlic and onions, covered, over low heat until soft, adding water if necessary. Combine garlic and onion with all other ingredients except cheese in 2qt casserole coated with veggie spray. Stir thoroughly and bake, uncovered, 1 hour. Stuff bell peppers, steam, covered, for half an hour or until peppers are tender. Just before serving, top with cheese and place under broiler to melt the cheese (can be served as a casserole without peppers by sprinkling cheese over casserole mixture and bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and starting to crisp. Makes 6 servings).

Be inventive. Experiment with making a CREAMY ONION DIP with a cup of finely chopped sautd onions, oil, paprika, light sour cream and S&P to taste. Chill and serve in "bowl" hollowed from a large red onion.

Rotten Tomatoes: "Beauty & the Beast," A-; "War Horse," B; "Contraband," C+



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