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Layers to This Onion

May 11, 2006
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May means produce - and with that comes a sweeter type of onion - the Vidalia, grown in a specific region of south central Georgia.

Vidalias are an ideal choice for spring salads, sandwiches and other lightly cooked dishes, and also can be incorporated as a side dish to any main course.

These sweet onions not only provide strong flavor, but also contain health-promoting phytochemicals. Research shows that onions may help guard against many chronic diseases. That's because they're filled with generous amounts of a flavonoid called quercetin, which protects against cataracts, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Sweet Vidalia Salsa
4 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded, diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice, plus more to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until puréed.

Transfer to bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Salsa can be refrigerated for up to three days.

Makes 1 cup.

Sweet Vidalia Quesadillas
1 medium-large Vidalia onion
extra virgin olive oil for brushing onion and tortillas
salt and pepper to taste
4 flour tortillas
3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack (or Mexican blend) cheese
1/4 cup packed fresh coriander sprigs, coarsely chopped
chopped hot peppers (optional)

Preheat grill and lightly oil cooking rack.

Cut the onion crosswise into one-quarter-inch thick slices and arrange them on baking pan, keeping slices intact.

Brush onions with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Repeat on both sides.

Next, place onion slices 5 to 6 inches apart on the grill. Grill 4 minutes on each side or until softened and slightly charred.

Transfer onions to bowl and separate slices.

Prepare tortillas by brushing one side of each tortilla with oil.

Place 2 tortillas, oil-side down, on baking dish and fill by dividing onion, cheese and remaining seasonings between each of the 2 tortillas.

Cover with remaining tortillas, oil-side up.

Carefully transfer from baking pan to grill, oil-side down, with spatulas.

Grill until golden-brown, flipping to brown both sides (1 minute each side).

Transfer to serving dish and cut into wedges.

Serves 2.

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