Ingredients such as garlic and onion are essential to many recipes, providing the foundation on which good flavor is built. When we are using these ingredients, we are actually using something coming from the same family. The Allium family includes garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and chives. This family is high in sulfuric compounds, which give them their distinct pungency. Garlic has the strongest flavor profile of them all, with leeks and chives being the most mild. Onions, garlic, and shallots grow as bulbs, and scallions are in fact an immature onion that has been harvested before the bulb forms. While leeks look just like a very large scallion, they do not form a bulb when mature.
The whole Allium family is known for their cancer fighting properties, and garlic specifically is known for it’s ability to lower overall cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol, helps reduce risk of atherosclerosis, lowers blood pressure, and it has anti viral and anti bacterial properties. Onions are an immune system booster, they help prevent colds, they help reduce risk of diabetes, and they have anti fungal properties as well. Leeks provide the same health benefits as onions and garlic, but with added nutrients that help control blood sugar. Alliums are a terrific addition to your diet due to their many health benefits.
Alliums have a wealth of culinary uses. Dips, salads, soups, quiche, pastas, sauces, breads, savory pies, and more. They can be consumed raw or cooked, and all allium varieties are significantly sweeter with a deeper flavor when cooked. Garlic especially takes on an almost buttery quality when cooked, making it wonderful as a spread for fresh baked bread. Leeks are lovely in soups, and is often paired with potato in that application. Chives and green onion are best served raw in salads or as a topping for baked potatoes. Each week at the Coop we have almost every allium variety available, along with many of the ingredients to with them to make them shine, we hope you’ll come in and take a look!