by The Culinistas

You’ve heard the term, now it’s time to learn. The word allium refers to the genus or family of plants that includes:

Onions
Shallots
Garlic & their scapes
Chives
Scallions
Leeks
Ramps

Onions and garlic are undeniably the most common alliums out there, and part of the “What are you cooking? That smells so good” starter pack. However we encourage you to play around with the lesser known varieties, as all add much needed flavor to savory dishes.

Garlic has long been known to be anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal; in fact humans have been popping garlic cloves for medicinal properties since the Mesopotamian period. Alliums in general all share the same sulfur compounds that provide cardiovascular support, aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

When shopping for bulb alliums (onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks) look for firmness; when shopping for green alliums (chives, scallions, leeks, and ramps) make sure they are bright and perky. Store bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of airflow. Get your greens in the refrigerator to keep them crisp.

We rarely indulge in a savory dish without adding some sort of allium, whether it’s sautéing onions and garlic before starting a sauce, or garnishing with a handful of finely chopped chives. In the summer months, we recommend throwing your allium of choice on the grill: a charred scallion or a grilled onion is a delicious addition to your burger and great when munched on alone. We even blend up our charred scallions into a chutney sweetened with golden raisins. Leeks, with their milder, sweeter flavor are excellent in soups and savory galettes. Ramps are a springtime delicacy, and are commonly blended into butter. Chives are delicate, and their beautiful purple flowers are edible, making any salad or soft scramble shine.

Thank you to Nadia Agsen the beautiful photo.