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O is For Onion

Vegetables from A to Z
By Hannah Marcotti

When I was a child there was a food that would send me into tears if it was scattered into our dinner casserole, and that was onion. The slimy texture or worse, the crunch of an onion and the spicy taste made them one food that I would dread. Red onionMy mother started making casseroles with one half onion, one half without, but sometimes would forget which half, or sometimes one or two little pieces would cross over to the wrong side. That was stressful eating for me.

Fast forward to my own cooking days and I enjoy onions, but not if they have a crunch to them, my mouth is making a face just thinking of it. I love to slowly sauté an onion and bring out it’s sweetness and tenderness. The smell of onion and garlic sautéing is magic, especially to my husband as he enters the front door after a long day. I used to start every recipe with onion and garlic, these days I find I am moving away from that traditional beginning. I have found that with every vegetable, rotating, eating them seasonally and enjoying a few simple flavors together is preferable. Other vegetables smell delicious so we haven’t lost that part of it!

My kids prefer not to know about the onions they are eating. If they can see them, they pick them out and since I remember that feeling, I try to either cook them down or use large slices which can be removed before serving. My favorite onion is a red onion. I love its sweetness and how it melts into your food. A friend of mine taught me a great use of red onion. Place a slice of bread topped with tomato, a slice or two of red onion, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper into the oven and let it slowly heat up and become sweet. She would serve it on the side of scrambled eggs and talk about joyful eating! I still can feel her friendship whenever I slice into a red onion.

With their anti-inflammatory properties and levels of vitamin C, onions are also now being credited for helping women in menopause reduce the risk of osteoporosis. They are enjoyed all over the world and bring a depth and sweetness to recipes. I usually put 2 whole onions in the pot when I make chicken stock, or a batch of homemade tomato sauce that later will be pureed.

The other night for dinner I just didn’t want to cook, I had done all my grocery shopping that day and was tired. I had some bar-b-q chicken thighs, rice tortillas (available at Trader Joe’s) and beautiful vegetables from the market. One vegetable was this beautiful bright pink onion. Irresistible to me is the combination of red onion and bar-b-q chicken. I love to sneak in vegetables wherever there is room for one so I added on and created a simple pizza that looked and tasted anything but. I used things I had on hand, ½ a zucchini and tomato were in my fridge so I used them. When you grate zucchini you can add it to almost anything and it just seems to disappear. This way I was able to add less cheese and more vegetables.

Chicken and Vegetable Pizz

Bar-b-q Chicken and Vegetable Pizza

2 rice tortillas
2 TB bar-b-q sauce (check ingredients and try to find a high quality sauce)
A few slices of red onion (or pink) sliced into half moons (or little circles if small)
½ zucchini, grated
½ heirloom tomato, chopped
¼ cup raw cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup chopped chicken (left-over from another night’s dinner)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (optional)

Place tortillas on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Layer on ingredients in order of ingredient list, using ½ of the ingredients on each tortilla. Place baking sheet in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. You want the cheese to start bubbling.

Recipe serves 2 adults

Hannah Marcotti is a Health and Lifestyle Coach who uses food as a gateway into transforming our lives. She leads the popular women’s group, Connecting, where women explore their food, relationships, spirituality, and passions together. For more health tips, recipes and calendar of Hannah’s events, sign up for her free e-newsletter at  Hannah’s Harvest.

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