People should use onions in their cooking more. Onions elevate the flavor of many foods. Chop and cook them properly and see amazing results. The following techniques are some clever cooking hacks that make use of the mighty chopped onion.
Cooking Hacks: What Chopped Onions Can Do For Your Meals
Reduce Bitterness in Foods
Onions contain sulfur compounds that are very effective at reducing bitterness in foods. If your tomato sauce tastes a little bitter or your meat stew has some acrid notes, simply sauté some chopped onions in oil or butter before adding the bitter components.
The sulfur compounds in onions bind to and neutralize bitter flavor compounds. After 5-10 minutes of sautéing, you’ll have a sweet, aromatic base for your dish without any bitterness.
Boost Flavor in Lean Cuts
Chopped onions can transform the flavor of typically bland lean meats like chicken breast, pork tenderloin, and fish fillets. This is because onions contain sulfur compounds that impart savoriness. Sauté diced or sliced onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned.
Then add your lean meat and continue cooking just until done. As the meat cooks, moisture releases more onion sulfur compounds which get absorbed, making the meat much more savory and appetizing.
The browned onions also add sweetness and fragrance, helpful for healthier dishes that may lack the usual seasonings like fatty gravies or sugary sauces. In the end, you’ll have a flavor-packed lean protein boosted by the hidden powers of simple chopped onions.
Thicken Soups and Stews
Onions have a high fiber content which helps thicken liquid-based dishes like soups, chilis, and curries. When onions are cooked down, their fiber breaks down into gelatinous strands that infuse the cooking liquid with body and texture.
This natural thickening power means you may be able to skip adding flour or cornstarch when onions are already part of the ingredients.
Prevent Pasta from Boiling Over
Here’s a kitchen trick that has nothing to do with flavor. If your pasta water is threatening to boil over as you cook noodles or spaghetti, simply throw a few chopped onion pieces into the pot.
This disrupts the surface tension, allowing the bubbles to collapse instead of foaming up and out of the pot.
Unlock Nutrients in Other Vegetables
Onions contain an enzyme called alliinase which has been shown to make nutrients in other vegetables more bioavailable when paired.
For example, one study found that eating tomatoes with onions significantly increased the absorption of lycopene, a beneficial antioxidant. \
Mixing onions with vitamin-rich veggies like carrots, spinach, kale, and red bell peppers can boost your intake of their beneficial compounds.
Make Caramelized Onions
When cooked low and slow, onions transform from pungent and sharp tasting to sweet, rich, and complex. Their natural sugars caramelize, developing a jammy texture and notes of toasted nuts and brown butter.
Caramelized onions are delicious served over grilled meats, blended into dips, or even eaten as a topping for burgers or pizza. Prepare a big batch and keep them refrigerated for an easy way to top anything with sweet oniony goodness.
As you can see, keeping a bag of onions on hand pays off with so many smart ways to use them. Whether you need to add tons of flavor with hardly any effort or solve common kitchen mishaps, chopped onions deserve a permanent place in your meal prep.