In season: torpedo onions


Cooking demos:

9 a.m. Saturday: Chef Todd Immel of Floataway Cafe working with torpedo onions. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta.

10 a.m. Saturday: Chef Aaron Russell of Restaurant Eugene. Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta.

Chef demos are held at many farmers markets. Check your local market’s Facebook page or website for listings.


Just arriving at markets: blueberries, eggplant, peaches, raspberries, squash blossoms (sometimes on special order only), sweet onions

Vegetables, fruit and nuts: arugula, Asian greens, asparagus, beets, blueberries, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic scapes, green garlic, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, Napa cabbage, onions, pea tendrils, peaches, pecans, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, strawberries, sugar snaps, summer squash, turnips

From local reports

Sometimes a trip to your local farmers market is more than a shopping excursion. In addition to the chance to stock up on fresh food for dinner, talking to the farmers about what they’re growing can also offer a lesson in culinary geography.

Take the red torpedo onion, or Tropea, grown by Nicolas Donck of Crystal Organic Farm in Newborn. Donck sells these onions in his booth at the Saturday morning Morningside Farmers Market.

The Tropea is named for a town in Calabria, a region of southern Italy. It’s called the torpedo onion because of its long narrow shape. When it’s dried, it looks very similar to a shallot, which Donck says it also resembles in flavor.

He says he’s been growing torpedo onions so long he can’t remember ever not growing them. It’s one of several varieties of onions he grows, which include the yellow Granex (the sweet onion called Vidalia when grown in that part of Georgia) and the Pumba, a hard yellow storage onion.

He sells the Tropeas as a fresh onion with the tops on. If you didn’t know better, you’d think these were young red onions just waiting to turn into the big round red onions we see at the grocery store. But they always retain their slender shape. They don’t store well, so they are a seasonal treat.

Donck starts his plants from seed, transplanting the young seedlings into either his high tunnels or fields depending on the time of year. Seeds sown in late December are transplanted in February and the young onions make it to market in April and May. Those planted later extend the season all the way into early August.

These onions are so popular with his market customers, Donck grows about 4,000 each year.

With their sweet, tender bulbs and green leaves, Tropeas make an easy vegetable for cooking on the grill. They also work well as raw onions in salad. Or toss some on a pizza in homage to their Italian roots.

King + Duke’s Coal-Roasted Torpedo Onions

Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 15 minutes Serves: 4

Chef Joe Schafer created this recipe, which the restaurant serves as a seasonal appetizer or side dish. At the restaurant, the onions are garnished with fried capers, made by heating oil to 350 degrees and then frying 1/4 cup drained capers until crisp. Drain the fried capers on paper towels and use them to garnish the onions immediately so the capers will remain crisp.

Piquillo peppers are a sweet pepper with little or no heat. They are roasted and then packed into jars and can be found in the gourmet aisle of some grocery stores or on the Spanish food aisle at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. If you’re making this a little later in the summer and can’t find green garlic tops, substitute chives or the tops of spring onions.

12 torpedo onions, cleaned, outer layer removed

4 tablespoons olive oil plus more for coating onions

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup green garlic tops, finely chopped

Romesco Sauce (see recipe)

Preheat grill to very hot. Rub onions with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

While grill is heating, combine chopped green garlic with 4 tablespoons olive oil and set aside.

When grill is ready, cook onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss onions with reserved green garlic mixture and arrange on serving platter. Add Romesco Sauce on the side for dipping and serve immediately.

Per serving, without Romesco Sauce: 312 calories (percent of calories from fat, 48), 5 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 14 milligrams sodium.

King + Duke’s Romesco Sauce

Hands on: 15 minutes Total time: 15 minutes Makes: 3 1/4 cups

Any leftover Romesco Sauce will be excellent with grilled fish, seafood stews or roasted potatoes.

1 (8-ounce) jar piquillo peppers, drained

2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)

3/4 cup whole blanched, almonds, toasted

2 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed, toasted

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons hot Spanish paprika (pimenton)

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, combine drained peppers, tomatoes, almonds, bread, vinegar, paprika, garlic and cayenne. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of processor as needed. Slowly drizzle in oil. Transfer to a container and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use. May be made up to 1 week ahead.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 115 calories (percent of calories from fat, 84), 1 gram protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams fat (1 gram saturated), trace cholesterol, 13 milligrams sodium.