Well, not really. I only cried once, while slicing a red onion. But I did also buy a white onion and a yellow onion, and considered the sad, but natural state of my relationship with each.
As many tears as onions have caused me to shed throughout the course of my life, they routinely save my culinary world. A simple base in so many recipes, the flavor profile they add to food is deep and really not replicable by any other ingredient.
If the onion is so important, shouldn’t we understand the differences between the yellow, white, and red onions we must choose between at our grocery stores and farmers’ markets? I’m glad you asked. Per the request of a reader, here are some helpful tips the next time you don’t know which onion to buy. No more tears of frustration allowed.
White: White onions are the mildest of the three. They are great if you are looking for an ingredient to enhance the flavors of your recipe, but don’t want anything too strong or pungent. You might notice these guys atop your late-night taco or burrito run–they’re often mild enough to enjoy raw.
Yellow: These orbs are pungent! The sulfur content in yellow onions is higher than in whites, so you might shed an extra tear when cutting them. Don’t let that scare you away, though. When sautéed or cooked into a recipe, the base flavor they add is dynamite. My personal favorite way to eat yellow onions is caramelized, on top of a (veggie) burger. Yum!
Red: The mildest and sweetest of the three, red onions are often eaten raw in salad or on sandwiches. They’ve still got that great onion zing to them, but not so much so that a thorough face-crinkle is necessary upon consumption (at least in my opinion). While considering the red onion, I remembered one of my all-time favorite salads that I first ate at Brocach restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Field greens, crumbled blue cheese, cinnamon-paprika-dusted avocado, toasted walnuts, vinaigrette and red onion. Killer. I recreated the salad with great success…and yes, I shed a few tears in the process. Tears of tasty joy, mainly. You might want to make this salad of onion bliss. Now.