Ingredient Focus: Scallions

If you're timid about using onion in your recipes, start with scallions-they are a delicious baby step into the onion world. Though scallions have other monikers like green onions, spring onions or onion sticks, they are milder than most onion varieties.

Scallions are part of the allium species, though unlike the onions you might think of, scallions have green leaves and lack a fully developed root bulb. They are packed with vitamins A and C as well as potassium, calcium and iron.

If you plan to grow your own, start with some varieties of scallions like Evergreen Long White Bunching and Lisbon White Bunching, which come in beautiful deep purples and greens. Scallions grow best in sunny areas in alkaline-light soil and are best when grown until they are a couple inches tall (or about 2 months). If you let them grow more, the taste won't be as delicate.

Scallions are versatile flavor-boosters in the kitchen. Saute or stir-fry scallions in recipes for soups or stir-fries. Mince scallions with a sharp knife or even with a food processor for use in pestos and sauces. Raw scallions give dishes more crunch and a fuller, more onion-like flavor. Many Asian and Eastern cuisines use raw scallions in their dishes like lettuce chicken wraps.

Make sure you remove all dirt and grime from the scallions by washing your scallions thoroughly before cooking. When you chop scallions, you can use a number of different ways including just trimming the tops off and using the whole piece for decoration or slicing them to be used more as a seasoning like in your potato salad.

Are you a scallion lover? What are your favorite scallion recipes?

Photo: mapper-montag