Before the tops of my bulb onions flop over and yellow, I sneak a few out of the ground so that I can use both the fresh stalks and the almost-mature bulbs. These green onion tops are as tasty as scallions or chives, which tend to be less prolific about the time bulb onions end their growing cycle and can be pulled to dry and store.
I give options for using chives, scallions (aka green onions), walking onions or green bulb-onion tops in many recipes because they’re quite interchangeable, with a similar flavor and texture. I recently presented bulb-onion tops in a sushi workshop, where we cut them into thin, chive-like strips for futomaki rolls. They also feature in recipes I’ve shared in this column, including Zucchini-Basil Pancakes. By swapping in these members of the allium family as they’re available, you can sprinkle on fresh green snippings a good part of the year.
Of course, the layered bulbs are the real onion crop, and I think grilling enhances every variety. This time of year, I make this dip with freshly harvested onion bulbs and their tops. The rest of the year, I swap in chives, scallions or walking onions, grilling up stored onion bulbs or using chopped onions I grilled in the fall and stashed in the freezer. You can serve this dip with sturdy potato chips, but it’s also tasty with homemade sourdough pita chips, toasted sourdough bread or raw vegetables and works well as a baked potato topping.
Onion Lover’s Dip
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
3 small unpeeled onions (about 3/4 pound)
2 cloves unpeeled garlic
1 tablespoon fresh dill fronds
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green tops from the onions, thinly sliced crosswise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Brush any dirt from the onion and garlic skins, leaving as many skin layers intact as possible. Slice each onion in half around the middle, instead of from stem to root, and cut a slice each from the hard root end and the top stem end. Place on a medium-hot grill; put the garlic cloves on the medium-low edge of the grill. Grill the onions for about five minutes per side, until soft and showing grill marks; let the garlic roast another 10 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Let both cool until easy to handle. Remove the dried outer skins, and then place the rest in a bowl and let cool completely.
Coarsely chop the onions and garlic before putting them into a food processor, adding any dark “juice” released by the grilled onions as they sat. Process until chopped to your preferred texture. Add the fresh dill and process briefly until combined. Scoop into a medium bowl and stir in the yogurt, sour cream and onion tops. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover, refrigerate for one hour to blend the flavors, and then taste and adjust the balance as needed before serving.
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