Someone once said, on some cookery show or other, that their grandmother swore that as long as she had some onions, she could rustle up a tasty meal from whatever lurked in the back of the store cupboard or bottom of the fridge. One of the oldest food ingredients known to mankind and used in the cuisine of almost any country you care to mention, the humble onion not only adds a superb depth of flavour to any dish, but is also incredibly good for you.
Used for centuries to reduce inflammation and fight infection, we now know that the phytochemicals in onions improve the working of Vitamin C in the body, improving our immunity. They contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory also known to play a significant role in preventing cancer and, if eaten raw, encourage the production of good cholesterol, to keep the old ticker ticking. And, important for all you diabetics out there, onions are a rich source of chromium, a trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels in the blood, thus facilitating insulin action and controlling sugar levels in diabetics.
Most recipes suggest sweating or browning your onions in quite a lot of oil for a relatively brief period of time. In my experience, no onion I have ever cooked has yielded its sweetly savoury deliciousness in the standard 10 minutes recommended by most: you will need to sweat them for at least half an hour on a low heat, during which time they will melt down into a velvety pulp ready to receive any other flavours you wish to add.
And there really is no need to cook them in a sea of oil, for what is the point in taking a perfectly fine vegetable, containing just 40 calories per 100g, and drowning it in 3 tablespoons of fat, adding 400 calories to your dish before you’ve even started? A few squirts of Fry Light, to cover your pan base and heated gently until translucent before adding your onions, is all that is needed, followed by a little patience. Giving you plenty of time to prepare the other ingredients for your dish, whether it be a casserole, a curry, a pasta sauce, a chilli…you get my drift.