We’re still enjoying the end of our winter veggies here in the Pacific Northwest before the spring vegetables begin popping up at the market. During these colder months, we do a lot of hearty soups which are common place for plants in the Allium family. You’ll surely be familiar with these pantry staples, but you may not know how much nutrition these plants can pack into your cooking!
A staple for all seasons: ONION
WHY WE LOVE IT ➸ The onion, a classic staple in most kitchens. Onions are loaded with phytonutrients which are naturally occurring compounds in plants that are able to trigger healthy reactions in the body. One in particular that is prevalent in onions is quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that may be linked to preventing cancer. Onions also contain Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron, all essential nutrients that our bodies need.
WHERE TO USE IT ➸ Onions pair well in so many dishes it’s hard to name them all, they can even be delicious on their own when sautéed and caramelized or breaded and fried for a once in a while treat. They can be used raw in salads for a spicy kick. Or add them to soups and casseroles. Onions also make a good stuffing inside chickens and turkey when roasting whole for extra flavor and moisture.
A favorite flavor year round: GARLIC
WHY WE LOVE IT ➸ Another commonly used ingredient in most kitchens, garlic contains many beneficial nutrients including Sulfur, Allicin, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Selenium. It’s also been shown to be very beneficial for positive cellular functioning and a healthy immune system.
WHERE TO USE IT ➸ Garlic is delicious and spicy when used raw in sauces and salads. It’s also a great addition to sautéed vegetables, soups, or pizzas! I particularly love to roast whole cloves of garlic and crush them together with good quality olive oil as a spread for crostini’s!
For a milder onion like flavor: LEEK
WHY WE LOVE IT ➸ Similar but milder in flavor than onions, leeks also have sulfur-containing compounds that fight free radicals in your body, they also contain kaempferol, a flavonol that help support healthy cellular functioning in the body. Plus leeks contain antioxidants and vitamins A and K, along with folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and thiamin.
WHERE TO USE IT ➸ Leeks are a great addition to soups and salads. They can also be frozen, pickled, canned or dehydrated for longer term storage and use.
To add a pop of color to dishes: CHIVE
WHY WE LOVE IT ➸ Chives are also milder flavored and offer a more delicate and colorful pop to your cooking. And like the others above, they contain many beneficial nutrients including Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Choline.
WHERE TO USE IT ➸ Chives are a versatile ingredient and are often added to eggs dishes like omelets or quiches. They also go great on potato dishes and salads. I personally enjoy them paired with goat cheese on crackers or crostini. Because of the delicacy of this plant, it’s best to add to dishes either at the end of or after the dish has been removed from heat to help preserve the color and flavor.