They’re cheap, abundant, healthy and delicious. Now, here’s how to use them.

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Let's talk about onions. Because onions are a puzzle. They are both essential to most of our cooking, and also, for many of us, completely overlooked. We tend to forget, since they are a part of much of the basis of other cooking as an aromatic, flavoring agent, or condiment, that onions are actually a vegetable and can and should be celebrated in their own right! Sure, there is nothing wrong with thinking of them as an ingredient, but it is time to make them the star. Onions are super healthy for us: Packed with antioxidants and low in calories, they have properties that can assist with everything from bone density to managing blood sugar to fighting cancer! They are available year-round, are inexpensive, and come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Here's how to put onions in a starring role in your cooking, from appetizers to baked goods.

Appetizers featuring onions

Okay, we are all on board with onion dip (always), but there is so much more you can do with an onion to start a meal! Think about a caramelized onion tart, savory onion pissaladiere, or an onion quiche to start a special meal. A classic French onion soup always hits the spot but also can make for a fun cocktail nibble in a French onion soup bite. Onion toasties are amazing for snacking, and onion puddings are an elegant and delicate opener for the fanciest dinner.

Main course dishes featuring onions

Making the onion the center of attention means that you should explore all the wonderful main courses that feature it! From comforting onion risotto to an onion pasta, there are so many ways to enjoy your onions. Stuffed onions come in all shapes and sizes, and like any stuffed vegetable, can be a hearty and satisfying meal. Whether you go meaty with a lamb and spinach stuffed onion or sausage, cranberry, and herb-stuffed onion, or keep it vegetable forward like a Florentine stuffed onion or a spring stuffed onion full of tomatoes, bulgur, and white beans, you are sure to find a stuffed onion to satisfy the whole family.

Onions
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Side dishes featuring onions

Even if you are serving a protein as your main, onions make for terrific side dishes. If you love French onion soup, you will flip for this French onion soup casserole, which is the perfect accompaniment to roast chicken. Creamed onion casserole is a fun riff on the traditional holiday style creamed onions or go for baked Vidalia onions in sherry cream sauce for a super fancy side! You can keep it simple with roasted onions or glazed onions or get a little fancier with some balsamic pearl onions or braised pearl onions.

Those stuffed onions can be more than an entrée—when filled with vegetables, grains or bread, they make terrific side dishes! Try stuffing stuffed onions for a Thanksgiving feel all year long, breadcrumb and cheese stuffed onions with chianti sauce, or make an onion rice pilaf and stuff it into onions. Or flip it around and use the onion as the stuffing, like these onion stuffed potatoes or French onion stuffed peppers! And of course, don't ignore everyone's favorite onion side dish, the onion ring.

Sweets and condiments featuring onions

It's easy to think outside the box with onions. Maybe you want to make a poppyseed onion pull apart loaf, or give a French onion coffeecake a try. Coffee-onion jam is a great condiment for all sorts of grilled meats, and onion chrysanthemums are as pretty as they are delicious. And once you have had onion chutney, onion sauce, a chunky onion condiment, or a smoked-onion soubise, you may never go back to regular gravy or sauces again.