December 2015 Issue

Allium Vegetables: Timeless Staples

Call upon this family of pungent vegetables, that includes onions, leeks, garlic, and chives, for health and flavor rewards.

Allium vegetables—edible bulbs including onions, garlic, and leeks—appear in nearly every cuisine around the globe. They are fundamental in classic cooking bases, such as French mirepoix (diced onions, celery, and carrots), Latin American sofrito (onions, garlic, and tomatoes), and Cajun holy trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery). While we sometimes take these standbys for granted, the flavor of allium vegetables can not be replicated. And neither can their health benefits, which include protection from heart disease and cancer. Allium vegetables have been treasured over the millennia; onions, with origins in Asia, Iran, and West Pakistan, are the most widely cultivated species of the allium genus and have been grown for over 5,000 years. The allium genus consists of up to 1,250 species, many of which are grown as ornamental flowers.

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