Ingredient of the Week: Spring Onions

Spring Onion, Egyptian Walking Onion (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Spring onions are the pantry ingredient of the week at la Domestique. These sweet and succulent Alliums are merely immature red, yellow, or white onions. Harvested early, spring onions have generous green leaves and long thin stalks. Their flesh is moist and delicate, and their mild onion flavor is delicious eaten raw or cooked. At the farmers market, the pungent aroma of spring onions can be detected in the air long before reaching the farm stand stacked high with dangling roots and bound stems. Here in Colorado, the growing season gets off to a slow start, as night frosts are a regular occurrence through May. Spring onions are a welcome sight after so many weeks of only spinach.

When selecting spring onions, look for bright green, perky tops and firm stems- nothing dry or shriveled. Keep spring onions in the fridge loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. Use them within a day or two, as the tender stems will turn limp and rapidly loose their flavor. To prepare spring onions for cooking, slice off the roots and green tops and peel off the outer layer. Spring onions can be grilled whole or thinly sliced and eaten raw in salads, tacos, or to garnish soups. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday and I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with spring onions.

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Cook in the Moment: Spring Pea & Herb Salad with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Spring Pea & Herb Salad with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Olive Oil, More Than Just a Commodity

Olive oil- to us, it’s just food. Many of us here in the U.S. have never seen a gnarled olive tree. Olive oil comes from isle 9 in the grocery store, with no history, no context, only pictures on bottle labels depicting romantic Italian villas. Olive oil is a commodity. Merriam Webster defines commodity as “a mass-produced unspecialized product.” Reading Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, by Tom Mueller, took me on a journey through the olive growing regions of the world, beginning in Italy, passing through Spain, Greece, Australia, and California. Amongst discussion of olive oil pressing methods, olive oil tasting notes, and corruption in the olive oil industry, the pit stop that stuck with me most was Palestine. In an interview with Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Mueller explores the olive branch as a symbol of peace since ancient times, now warped into an emblem of conflict:

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10 Ways Tuesday: Olive Oil

Olive Oil (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

 

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with olive oil during spring:

 

1.  Salad Dressing

Watching Jamie Oliver dress a salad with olive oil gets me excited. He’s easygoing about it, adding a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon- no measuring. He’s passionate, tasting and tossing the leaves, exclaiming over the beauty of a perfect radish or the peppery bite of a well-made olive oil. The man makes beautiful, vibrant salads that are a celebration of the season, and he’s the inspiration behind my Spring Pea and Herb Salad, to be featured on the blog this week. The idea that I take from Jamie Oliver is that a salad doesn’t need a fancy vinaigrette with twenty ingredients. Sometimes, the only thing a salad needs is the lubrication and flavor of a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Whether you’re tossing together a simple spring greens salad or a medley of peas, beans, and herbs, the vibrant fresh flavors should stand out and not be overwhelmed by an acidic dressing. Next time you toss together a spring salad, try just using your favorite olive oil, and maybe a squeeze of lemon with a dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Ingredient of the Week: Olive Oil

Ingredient Of The Week - Olive Oil

During spring I begin to crave the freshly pressed, peppery, herbal flavor of olive oil. In the winter months I tend to use butter more in my cooking, but spring is a time for sitting on the patio with a glass of rosé, dragging ragged pieces of crusty bread through a pool of olive oil on my plate. I savor the fruity aroma and bitter finish in the back of my throat. The many varieties of olives mean each olive oil has a unique flavor, from rich and fruity to green and spicy. Explore the world of olive oil the same way you would wine- by tasting. Spring is the season for freshly pressed olive oils from the Northern Hemisphere regions, such as the Mediterranean (including Spain, Italy, and Greece), the Middle East, and California. When buying olive oil, seek out a shop where the owners are passionate about their produce and offer you a taste in the store. Read labels carefully and research producers. According to the book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, it’s good to remember that olive oil is simply the juice of a tree fruit, olives. Virgin oil is made by grinding and extracting the juice from the olive- no chemicals or heat are involved. Extra-virgin refers to the quality of the olive oil, determined to be without any documented faults (rancid flavors, etc.) by professional tasters.

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Cook in the Moment: Braised Halibut and Artichokes

Braised Halibut and Artichokes (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

The sky is grey and a cool breeze whips through the tree branches. I watch from my apartment window as they wave back and forth, as if in slow motion, tender spring blossoms quivering. The rain pelts the window, “tap, tap, tap.” “Come in, “ I invite her. On Sunday I enjoy her company like that of an old friend who has been away for too long. Rain is rare in Boulder, Colorado. Snow, however, is a frequent visitor, often overstaying his welcome, as winter becomes spring. This year is off to a dry start, and summer in Colorado will be very dry- dessert like. The unexpected rain shower is a welcome guest I embrace, inhaling her perfume of wet grass, savoring the sound of each drop like laughter between friends. She takes me back to my childhood in Arkansas, where humidity was a constant companion and rain poured readily from the sky. These are good memories of green country fields cloaked in fog, sopping wet clothes from a surprise downpour, and playing in puddles.

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