The Goddess has never met an onion she doesn’t like. She LOVES onions. It’s that simple. She loves them caramelized; onions add sweetness to dishes, when caramelized. She love them raw; raw onions add crunch and freshness. Is there anything better than raw onions on a burger? Sauté onions just a bit, but leave them with some texture; they are lovely in onion soup or piled on top of steak or eaten right out of the skillet! She seems to lean toward Walla Walla, Vidalia, but leeks, scallions, shallots are all high on her list, too. And of course, the beautiful and tasty red onions we’re using here.You’ve probably noticed that The Goddess tends to throw a pretty significant amount of onion into the things she cooks. When she and The Latin Lover were newly married and living in Toronto, The Goddess bought a 50 pound bag of the most gorgeous Ontario-grown onions at the farmer’s market. They were huge. This type of purchase isn’t all the extraordinary, except that we didn’t own a car. Our mode of travel—the subway. So The Latin Lover carried the bag of onions, on his shoulder, on the subway and then onto our small apartment, where he plopped the bag down and made it pretty clear that wasn’t something he intended to do ever again. At least not in this lifetime and not married to me! It must have been love!
We stored that bag in the closet, where our lovely orbs of goodness lived until they were gone. Yup, by the end of February, The Goddess had used that entire bag and not one spoiled. We ate bowls of French onion soup that winter and they were added to pretty much every dish she made. Ahhh, it was a good and healthy winter. Thank you for that little walk down memory lane. There actually is a recipe here.
Salsa Criolla, or pickled red onions, or red onion salad is ubiquitous with Peruvian cuisine. These are great eaten as is, but are a wonderfully edible garnish for Cuban black beans, rice and meats or seafood. I love them with shredded chicken, some avocado slices, all rolled into a flour tortilla. Simple and delicious.
I think the key is that the onions are sliced paper-thin, so you can eat quite a few and not find them over-powering. And the dousing with lime juice freshens them and whatever you eat them with. Once you make Salsa Criolla, which is so simple to prepare, you’ll always have a bowl in the fridge. The bonus…they will last several days in the fridge without suffering too much; they will lose a bit of their original crunch, but the flavor…mmmmm!
Salsa Criolla (Peruvian Onion Salad)
- 2 large red onions, very, very thinly sliced (I use a mandoline)
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Ice cubes and water
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
In a medium-sized bowl, toss the thinly sliced onions with the salt. Add a couple of good handfuls of ice cubes, and enough cold water to not quite cover the onions. Set aside and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the onions from their ice water bath and squeeze out most of the water, but don’t crush the onions up too much. Add the lime juice and cilantro; toss. Place in a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Serve piled on roasted chicken, grilled fish, or as a side salad.
NOTE: To make a true salad, slice some tomatoes, English cucumbers and an avocado, along with a thinly julienned jalapeño pepper and top with some of the onions. You may wish to drizzle some good olive oil over the mixture, but I don’t find it necessary. The onions are great on burgers and hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and they make a fried egg sandwich a thing of true beauty!
Salsa Criolla (Peruvian Onion Salad) Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
On Sunday, I served these with Citrus-Cumin Grilled Chicken (that recipe is coming soon!). After the onions sit for awhile, the red permeates the white part of the onion and they are a gorgeous purply-red color. Make certain to make extra chicken and salsa criolla so you can roll them into a tortilla for lunch. Tonight, we had the salsa criolla piled on a burger and on our black beans and rice…very yummy. The Youngest One loved them and couldn’t stop eating the beans, but he’s always loved black beans. The Salsa Criolla was just the “frosting on the cake”!