Apr 10, 2013

Sweet Onion Salsa

My first encounter with Carolina sweet onions was when I received my very first farm box. There were three ginormous onions in my half bushel box of local farm goodies, and I couldn't wait to try them out!

Carolina sweet onions look like giant green onions or leeks, only they have a much more mild taste than any onion I've tasted.

The first two I sliced thinly and caramelized with butter and served over mashed potatoes. Mmmmm...... Delicious! They sure live up to their name and the caramelization heightened the sweetness even more!

With the last precious sweet onion I decided to try out my classic salsa recipe (which I posted here in one of my very first posts, on taco salad). Only I subbed out the regular onion for sweet onion and used grape tomatoes instead of Roma tomatoes. 


Another winning experiment! And I can assure you, all my culinary adventures don't end as well! With the sweet onions and the grape tomatoes this salsa really takes on a delectable sweetness not typical to salsa. 

I also experimented with lacto-frementing this recipe and it turned out great! So this is my first fermented veggie recipe to make it to the blog. 

Lacto-fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation. In the past pickles and olives were preserved with a salt brine, and chutneys and such with a little whey mixed in.  Today with canning and lots of artificial preservatives these methods have virtually been forgotten. But it turns out lacto-frementation increases the nutrient content of the foods because the beneficial bacteria actually multiply the nutrients! How cool is that?! Once again I find that the old fashioned way is the healthier way. The instructions for this variation are below the recipe.

Sweet Onion Salsa

1 pint grape tomatoes, finely chopped (I used my handy-dandy manuel food processor from Pampered Chef)
1 large Carolina sweet onion with green tops (leave out any toughened or browning sections), finely chopped, about 2/3 cup. I used my food processor.
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, long stems removed, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika if you don't like heat.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lime or lemon

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour (if possible) until serving, to blend the flavors.  Serve with chips, as a topping for Mexican-American food, or with grilled fish fillets.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Servings: about 6.

Lacto-fermentation option:

To the above recipe, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup whey (drained from plain yogurt, not powdered whey protein).

Stir to combine and place in a mason jar. Press the veggies down a bit so the liquid rises to the top. Seal tightly with an air-lock lid (I recommend Cooking God's Way's airlock system), or loosely with a mason jar lid, to allow the gases to escape (the plastic "freezer lids" are preferred). Set on the counter in a cool place for about two days, or up to three days if you have an air-lock system.

When I did this the end result tasted identical to the salsa before I fermented it, with no bad taste at all! The lacto-fermented recipe will last a little longer in the fridge than the standard recipe, but I bet there won't be any left over!

{This recipe is linked up at Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays,  Whole Foods Wednesday and Tasty Traditions.}

What's your favorite way to use sweet onions?


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