I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with spring onions:
Basically a quiche without the pastry crust, the frittata is a rustic Italian baked egg dish that’s best suited to spring cooking. It’s a forgiving technique: sauté thinly sliced vegetables in a skillet, pour over beaten eggs, and sprinkle cheese on top. Start cooking the eggs on the stovetop and finish under the broiler for a browned and puffy frittata. Look for my favorite spring version: Spring Onion, Pea & Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese, on the blog this week. In the meantime, Martha Stewart’s Mushroom and Scallion Frittata would be delicious made with spring onions.
In Spain, grilled Calçots are a spring tradition. I first learned of this reading José Andrés Tapas cookbook. The Calçots, a spring onion, are cooked whole (minus the roots) over hot coals until tender and infused with smoky flavor. It’s a meal for a crowd, and a messy one at that, as the onions are meant to be eaten with your fingers, dragged through a spicy red romesco sauce and chased with plenty of wine. I’ll be preparing grilled spring onions inspired by this tradition tomorrow on the blog.
I always look to Chez Panisse Vegetables for simple preparations of seasonal produce that really highlight fresh flavor. Alice Waters’ instructions for Pickled Spring Onions is one of those techniques that can kick a meal up a notch with spectacular flavor. Spring onions are cleaned and trimmed, then simmered in a pot of 5 parts water to 1 part white wine vinegar and aromatics such as coriander seed, peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, and fresh thyme sprigs. Once the onions are tender, take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool. Refrigerate in jars and serve the pickled spring onions in salads, to garnish soups and stews, or as a side for grilled meats.
4. Spring Pilaf
The book I use as my ultimate reference for cooking with grains is Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, and in it you’ll find a recipe for Spring Pilaf with Artichokes and Green Peas. Maria Speck writes, “This quick dinner side is perfect for the days when you are tired, overworked, and simply done with the day.” She uses the always available green onions, but substitute spring onions for their fresh, lively flavor. Sauté the onions with garlic and rosemary for the base of the pilaf. Add instant brown rice (or par-boiled long grain brown rice) and cook in chicken (or vegetable) broth with green peas, artichoke hearts, and dill. Instant rice will absorb all the liquid in about 5 minutes. Let this pilaf inspire grain salads like a wheatberry or barley tossed with spring vegetables, lemon juice, and olive oil.
This is easygoing spring cooking at its best. Cut off the tops and roots of spring onions and toss them in olive oil along with whatever other spring veg you’ve got on hand: radishes, asparagus, artichokes, carrots, turnips, garlic, etc. Follow along with Bon Appétit’s roasted spring vegetables: season the veg with sea salt and pepper and pop them into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
Slices of toasted baguette topped with avocado, pea tendrils, chopped green onion, and maybe some blanched fava beans or peas, are perfect as a snack with a glass of white wine for happy hour. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and toast it under the broiler or toss it on the grill. Or maybe leave off the avocado and go for a tangy, salty sheep’s milk cheese like shavings of pecorino. Or mozzarella! Fresh herbs like mint, chive, or tarragon would also be lovely.
7. Compound Herb Butter
Use mildly pungent, slightly sweet, herbal spring onions diced in a compound butter with garlic, dill, parsley, and lemon for Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches a la the Barefoot Contessa. I like to spread the flavorful butter over rye or hearty-whole wheat bread before topping with slices of rich smoked salmon. The onions add an essence of spring, and the sandwiches are perfect for tea time with a friend.
A terrine is a dish made by layering ingredients, usually into a jar or other vessel, often un-molded before serving to showcase the beauty of color and shape in each layer. If you love design, Stéphane Reynaud’s cookbook, Terrine, is a feast for the eyes (and the mouth)! Though you may think pork or paté, my favorite terrines are made with vegetables or seafood. Reynaud’s Avocado and Shellfish Terrine makes for an elegant spring dish that is great for entertaining as it is prepared ahead of time and left to chill before turning out. Toss cooked shrimp with basil and olive oil. Using a biscuit ring as a mold, place the shrimp in the base for the first layer. Top with slices of avocado, then a mixture of crab meat and spring onions. Spring onion leaves can also be used to line the inside of the mold before layering for a pretty green wrap around the terrine. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before un-molding.
9. Spring Onion Pancakes
Use seasonal spring onions in Martha Stewart’s Scallion Pancakes for a slightly stronger flavor. In this Chinese pancake, thinly sliced spring onions and sesame oil add Asian flavor that is complimented by a soy-chile-rice wine vinegar dipping sauce. Serve the pancakes as part of a big spread with spring rolls, dumplings, stir-fry, and other Asian dishes for dinner, or make them with the kids for an afternoon snack.
10. Atop Pizza or Flatbread
One of my favorite spring recipes is this Flatbread Topped with Mint, Feta, and Lamb. It’s a weeknight supper I keep in my bag of tricks- quick and easy but full of Mediterranean flavor. Sliced leeks and scallions (or in this case, spring onions) are sautéed in butter, then sprinkled over the flatbread along with browned ground lamb, mint, and feta. A generous drizzle of olive oil is the only sauce you need for this bright and herbal dish. If I’m too tired to make the dough myself, I serve the toppings on store-bought naan bread. Really, really good.
What is your favorite way to cook with spring onions? Share it in the comments section. Click Here.