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Using Raw Onions In Salads

How to Mellow the Flavor of Raw Onions

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Using Raw Onions In Salads

Slice Onion

Photo © Molly Watson

Raw onions can add a nice bite to salads, but they can also be too pungent for people. Making raw onions less pungent is easy. First, cut the onion as you want it—chopped, sliced, or minced. Then just place the pieces in a colander and rinse under cool water. Spread rinsed raw onions on a clean kitchen towel or layers of paper towels and pat dry. You've rinsed off much of the pungency that's released when you cut the onion. They will be sweeter and more palatable for the onion-sensitive.


Remember, too, that not all onions are created equally. Try these onions for a sweeter salad addition:
  • Green onions are the mildest of onions and make a pretty ingredient in grain, pasta, and rice salads.
  • Sweet onions are aptly named and have much less sulfur than other onions, allowing their natural sweetness to shine through. Look for them in spring and summer to use as a crunchy, flavorful addition to all types of salads.
  • Spring onions are immature yellow, white, or red onions and tend to be much less pungent, and thus sweeter, than larger versions. As the name would suggest, look for them in spring and early summer at farmers markets and specialty grocery stores.
  • Ramps are wild leeks that have a flavor like a woodsy green onion. They are delicious in salads and their tender green leaves are edible too. Like green onions, there is rarely a need to rinse the off after cutting to mellow their flavor.
  • Red onions vary greatly in their pungency, but the rinsing technique works great with them - you can even soak them in cold water for a bit before rinsing them to further soften their flavor.

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