A humble onion has to be the most versatile and important vegetable in the kitchen. Think of all the dishes that start with an onion: the stocks, the stews, and the sauces... we could continue. This simple infographic from Pounds to Pocket provides instructions for how to cook onions nine different ways, from caramelising them or sweating them down, to roasting them – whatever it takes to extract all that flavour and sweetness.
We’d probably suggest a few adaptations to these instructions, like maybe sweating your onions in butter to kick the richness of your dish up a level, but it’s a nice starting point if you want to know how to get the best out of the mighty bulb.
Sautéed onions are perfect for pasta, burgers or pizza. Simply cook sliced onion in oil over a high heat until tender and golden. Shallots work especially well for sautéing.
Bake onions in the oven to achieve sweet and mellow flavours, the perfect for accompaniment to sausages and mash, steak or a roast dinner. Use a large onion, white and yellow onions are great for this as their flavour deepens with the slow and low cooking method.
Sweated onions are ideal for rice pilaf and white sauces as they retain their translucence as a result of the cooking process where the onions are sweated in a pot over the stove with their lid on. White onions will keep their subtle flavour when sweating.
Simply boil whole onions in a pan of boiling water to tenderise them ready for adding to dishes like boeuf bourguignon. Use any onions for boiling, small pearl onions are especially good for boiling.
Charring onions on the grill gives them a whole new dimension of smoky sweetness. Perfect for pairing with grilled meats, burgers or hot dogs. It depends on the meat you are serving them, but any onion works well for grilling, especially red onion.
Roasted whole onions
Roast onions in their skin until they are sweet and spreadable. Large white and yellow onions work very well as the skin imparts a delicious rich flavour to the delicate flesh. The perfect accompaniment to tacos, enchiladas or sandwiches.
Finally, pickle onions in vinegar to enjoy their zesty tanginess all year round. Here's how to pickle onions. Smaller onions work best for pickling, as you can drop them in the brine whole. At their best paired with traditional meals such as fish & chips, ploughman’s lunches and pies.