Sunday, June 29, 2008

Winter Bulbs, Spring Onions

Fig 1. Onions planted by my grandfather last autumn. 5 months later. presto.

The marvel of spring never ceases to amaze me, even more so this year considering the brutal winter we had here in Montreal. Yet despite the severity of this year’s wintry ordeal, the spring onions and garlic emerged all the same; in fact, the large amount of snow might have helped the spring bloom as the blanket of snow protects the ground from the harsh frost and ice.

While onions are not packed with nutrients, they do contain some potassium and the green tops are a good source of vitamin C. Onions have also been found to be good for your heart due to the compound adenosine, which reduces the risks of clot formation and may also help promote sleep.

Locally grown Quebec spring onions, garlic, garlic ramps and green onions are now available at most farmers’ markets—as well as some of the bigger chains, look in the Quebec grown sections.
When they’re at they’re freshest I like them simply raw in salads or as an accompaniment to grilled meat.

Grilled Lamb with Spring Onions, Vine Cherry Tomatoes and Cilantro.
Serves 4

-4 pieces of Lamb—I like to use the leg of lamb cut in 1” slices by the butcher.
-4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
-3/4 cup of chopped spring onions or green onions
-10 to 12 cherry tomatoes cut in quarters
-1/2 cup of cilantro
-Salt and pepper

Season lamb with salt, pepper and olive oil and rub it into the meat at least 1 hour before cooking and bring the lamb to room temperature. While your grill is preheating, prepare the onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Lower the heat on the grill to medium and place the lamb on the hot grill—do not move or press down on the meat—let the grill do its work. I like my lamb medium-rare which means six minutes per side.
When lamb is done to your likeness, remove from heat and let it rest with a piece of aluminium foil over it. While your meat is resting, heat a pan with the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Don’t let it stew, cook it hot and fast while stirring all the while so it doesn’t stick—about 3 minutes.
Plate the lamb and spoon the onion, tomato, cilantro mixture over top. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Note: You can pretty much use any meat you want including fish; and if for some reason you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute fresh Italian parsley.

Some historical notes of interest about onions:
-Ancient Egyptian tombs are adorned with pictures of onions believing that the circular layers within the onions represented life.
-Roman gladiators would rub onions all over their bodies believing it would make them stronger.
-Christopher Columbus brought onions with him to Haiti in 1492. Although some say that Chris introduced the onion to North America, they were growing wild throughout the Continent and were enjoyed by the Natives in a variety of ways.
-In the middle ages doctors believed onions helped with erections. Medieval viagra--eat up boys.

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