Cooked or raw, onions add depth and excitement to dishes.
- Spring and red onions bring color and flavor to salads, salsa and guacamole.
- Sweet onions are best when eaten raw or only slightly cooked, making them perfect additions to hamburgers, sandwiches and fresh salads.
- To sauté onions, heat skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat bottom of pan. Add thinly sliced or chopped onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
- To caramelize onions, first heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons of butter. Add 2 pounds of thinly sliced onions and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered until onions are soft and brown, about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a few tablespoons of vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper.
- To prevent watery eyes when cutting an onion, chill it for an hour before chopping. This helps slow down the movement of allyl sulfate, the enzyme responsible for producing tears.
- When cutting a dry onion, chop off the top and slice in half through the root. (Leaving the root intact makes chopping easier.) Remove skin and place halves flat-side down on a cutting board. Slice to make uniform half-moon slices.
- To take the onion smell out of a wooden cutting board, wash it with a paste made from baking soda and a few drops of distilled vinegar. Rinse with warm water. Season the dried board with mineral oil.
Chef Cary Neff is the president of the consulting firm Culinary Innovations and the author of the New York Times bestseller Conscious Cuisine (Sourcebooks, 2002).