Vidalia Onions , While in Season, Drive the Sweet Onion Category
Chef Bobby Flay probably said it best, “Vidalia onions aren’t just the most famous onions in the world; I think they may be the only famous onions in the world.”
Coming from a family that loves to cook and eat great food, I have been introduced to some of the best, and most unique foods in the world. I have grown up eating the freshest, and best, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads, fish and meats available. So I have known about Vidalia onions for a long time. My daddy loved to make an onion sandwich with just fresh bread, mayonnaise and Vidalia onions and swore it was the best sandwich ever. But even if you aren’t into onion sandwiches, these onions, because they are so sweet, are probably the most versatile onion on the planet and are really good in many other dishes like salads and casseroles. They are great when cooked simply on the grill, or fried in rings to go with those summer hamburgers. And yes, they are also good in desserts.
Vidalia’s are also interesting because for such a versatile onion, they are grown with extreme precision. They can only be grown in 20 South Georgia counties and only hand planted/harvested, and only available during Spring and Summer. Their taste is derived from the combination of weather, water and soil uniquely found in this small terroir surrounding Vidalia, Georgia. The onions are grown by a limited number of farmers who take pride in the Vidalia name and quality of the product. Most farms are multi-generational, family run operations. These onions are hand planted, harvested and cured every season.
They are also hand-picked by chefs everywhere because they know great quality ingredients make a great dish.
And good news is, this is the season to buy them. Shipping begins in Spring and goes through late summer. And just so you know, these days Vidalias can be found on shelves across the United States and certain parts of Canada. When you see them at your grocery store, buy them, cause once they are gone, they are gone until next year. And once you buy your onions, take care to keep them cool, dry, and separated to help them last longer. Vidalias contain more water than other onions, thus making them sweeter but also making them more susceptible to bruising and a shorter shelf life.
Here are some delicious recipes to try once you buy your onions.
Buben Vidalia Onion Apple Tart
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 medium Vidalia onion
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until it develops a caramel consistency (approximately 355 degrees on a candy thermometer). Carefully pour the hot caramel into the bottom of a 10 inch cake pan and let it cool.
Slice the Vidalia onion and the apple thinly with a knife, then layer in the bottom of the cake pan with the caramel.
In a saut’e pan, cook the butter over medium heat until it is foamy and has a nut-brown color. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and egg whites with a whisk. Add the almond flour and all-purpose flour and gently fold together. Slowly add the melted, foamy butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter over the apples and Vidalia onions.
Bake at 350 in oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then invert to un-mold. Cut into 6 equal wedges and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Makes 6 servings
Recipe Courtesy of Jeffrey Buben of Vidalia Restaurant on behalf of the Vidalia Onion Committee
Hawaiian Coconut Crusted Vidalia® Onion Rings with tamari-ginger dipping sauce
For a main dish variation, try these sweet crunchy onion rings and the tangy sauce with roast pork tenderloin or grilled salmon.
- Basic Batter:
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- Coconut Crust:
- ¼ cup ground macadamia nuts
- ¼ cup ground almonds
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Oil for frying
- 1 large Vidalia® onion
- Tamari-Ginger Dipping Sauce:
- ¼ cup chopped Vidalia® onion
- ¼ cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated, peeled fresh gingerroot
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Prepare the Tamari-Ginger Dipping Sauce; set aside.
Make the Basic Batter: Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium size bowl. Add the eggs and milk, whisking gently until a smooth thick batter forms.
To make the Coconut Crust, stir the macadamia nuts, almonds, and ginger into the batter. In a shallow bowl, combine the sesame seeds and coconut.
In a large heavy skillet, pour the oil to a depth of ¾ inch and heat to 375°F. Peel the Vidalia onion and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices; separate the slices into individual rings. (Reserve the onion centers for another use.) Dip an onion ring into the batter, coating thickly, then dredge in the sesame/coconut mixture. Lay the onion ring gently in the hot oil and cook until underside is dark golden—about 2 minutes; turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a 200°F oven.
Repeat with remaining rings. Cook 2 to 3 rings at a time depending on the size of your skillet, taking care not to crowd the pan or let the temperature drop too much, which will result in greasy rings. Serve warm with Tamari-Ginger Dipping Sauce.
For the dipping sauce:
In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and process until the onion is finely chopped. Makes 2/3 cup