April 3rd, 2017

Early Spring Onions: A Grilled Reprieve From Winter

Look out the window … yes, right now. I’ll wait.

It’s spring, yes, SPRING! Trees are blossoming, grass is greening, the days are getting longer. We love it. Especially the the beautiful vegetables it brings to our tables.

Last Monday, March 20, marked the first day of the season. I actually felt a bit lighter, “springier” if you will. This last week has brought chilly mornings and some rain storms, along with some temperate, sunny afternoons. All of which marks a good start. Here in Virginia, this time doesn’t seem to last very long. A couple of weeks and the humidity and heat sets in until October. (I might be exaggerating … but not about the humidity.)

Us Eaters are all a bit “twitterpated” over it, so this month we’re featuring the lesser known, lesser used (but oh so loved) spring veggies. Think ramps, garlic scapes, fiddle head ferns and dandelion greens, just to name a few. These may be hard to come by and not readily available at your standard grocer. An ill timed trip to the farmers market – too late or too early – and you may miss them there as well. Some you can forage yourself, or buy from speciality retailers. A few years ago I was lucky enough to get my mitts on some West Virginia ramps thanks to a local food delivery service I was a member of, Relay Foods. When I saw they were available, it was a no brainer: delivered right to my door where I used them in simple scrambled eggs and compound butter. I still have dreams about them.

At the moment, here in Virginia, we’re still a bit on the early side of these spring veggie seasonal debuts. While my local farmer’s market in Manassas opens all year long in some form or another, it was closed this week transitioning from their winter to spring season market. Once it’s open this Thursday morning I plan on stalking it, then again on Saturday morning, in the hopes of running into one of these hidden beauties.

I was bummed I wasn’t able to do a weekend farmers market run to grab the latest-in-season veggie, run home and wing a dish for y’all. It’s just a tad too early. Instead I ran to my nearest Whole Foods early on a Sunday morning in hopes to beat the madness. As it’s still early in the season, there wasn’t much at all. The local produce pretty much only consisted of greenhouse raised micro-greens. I settled on some spring onions, not as rarified as ramps, but they are an early spring veggie that isn’t used quite as often. At least I don’t use them all that often.

You may be thinking these are just green onions or scallions. Close, but no! While the other two are indeed the same and all three are the same in Canada and the United Kingdom, it turns out spring onions are a different “animal”. This, coupled with the close resemblance, is all a bit confusing. Spring onions, planted in the fall and harvested in the early spring, have a small bulbous onion at the base. The white bulb is sweeter and more mellow, while the green stalks are more intense than their scallion cousins. You may be able to get away with interchanging them in recipes, but, as noted in this Kitchn article, if the recipe calls for raw scallions, you may not want to use spring onions as the flavor will be more intense.

Having never used them before and noting their similarity to scallions and leeks, I opted to do a really simple grilled preparation. With the warmer weather we’ve been grilling a lot more, mostly simple marinated chicken, which these spring onions would be a perfect accompaniment to. Scallions and leeks grilled are amazaballs … why would spring onions be any different?

They did not disappoint! A little olive oil brushed on with salt and pepper … simple perfection.

Grilled Spring Onion
You can use this preparation with virtually any vegetable when grilling. Spring onions, scallions and leeks work well since you don’t have to do much slicing, if at all, and hold up very well on a grill.

bunch of spring onions
olive oil
salt and pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Cut the spring onions down the center of the white bulb and through the green stalks, until the whole thing is cut into two. Place on a baking sheet or large board.

Drizzle with olive oil and brush to coat. Sprinkle or grind salt and pepper, to taste. Turn over onions and repeat with oil and seasonings.

Grill on one side for 5 minutes, turn over and grill for another 2-5 minutes until charred and tender.

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Posted in Dear Diary