This Revered Calabrian Allium Should Have a Place at Your July Table

Tropea onions are sweet, aromatic and in season right now

July 1, 2024 6:28 am
Onions on newspaper From Tropea Market Old Town Crotone Calabria Italy
These may look like shallots, but their flavor is quite different.
UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Welcome to our summer produce series. Every week until the end of August, we’re highlighting the most in-season fruit or veggie of the moment, as handpicked by the experts at Natoora. You can learn more about the company and how they work with farmers in our first piece of the series.

I admit that before I started this produce series, I’d never heard of a Tropea onion. Maybe that’s because it’s not something you’ll usually find in U.S. grocery stores; rather, it’s a delicacy that companies like Natoora source from specialty producers. But this sweet red onion is definitely one to know, especially during the first week of July when it’s truly at its peak.

Tropea onions are actually quite popular and grown readily in Calabria, Italy (there’s even a seaside town called Tropea in the region). They likely were traded across the Mediterranean Sea some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, brought over by the Phoencians and Greeks. In Italy, they are mostly grown on the Thyrenian Calabrian coast, but Natoora sources their crop from Fifth Month Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There, Devin and Kristi Barto grow organic produce on a five acre farm and also organize both summer and winter CSAs. Their sweet, flavorful Tropea onions are just one of their current stars, which we can’t wait to grill and pickle so we can eat them year-round.

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about them, courtesy of Natoora:

  • What to look for when shopping: Firm, green stalks. Avoid wrinkled or dry skin on the bulb.
  • How to store them for maximum freshness: Store cold and dry, and trim tops if they are showing signs of wilting or decay. 
  • How to use them: These are delicately aromatic onions, and if grown properly, they will show incredible  sweetness. They can be sliced and eaten raw, grilled whole or caramelized.
a steak topped with salsa verde and fresh cherry tomatoes
Rule of Thirds’s seaweed salsa verde is a perfect steak sauce.
Andy Sisomboune

The Recipe

At Brooklyn’s Rule of Thirds, creative, modern Japanese fare is the star of the show, with dishes like smoked pork ribs with blueberry kabayaki, white miso BBQ sauce and dill, and house silken tofu with radishes, calamansi wafu and black lime. As Tropea onions come into season, Executive Chef Andy Sisomboune is using them two ways — blanched as part of a sashimi dish and also both grilled and raw in a seaweed salsa verde.

“I like using Tropea onions in this salsa verde because they lend a subtle sweetness that goes well with the sweetness of the seaweed,” Sisomboune says.

As you can see in the photo above, Sisomboune uses the salsa verde and fresh cherry tomatoes to dress a steak, but we think it would also be great on chicken, fish and even grilled vegetables. Now get to your farmers’ market this week while this of-the-moment ingredient is still at its prime.

Seaweed Salsa Verde

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
  • .25 cup sea beans, cut into .25″ pieces (optional)
  • 2 Fresno peppers, deseeded and minced
  • 6 serrano peppers, grilled and minced
  • 2 Tropea onions, grilled and minced
  • 1 fresh Tropea Onion, minced
  • 1 cup wakame
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • .25 cup fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Banyuls vinegar (can substitute red wine or sherry vinegar)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Olive oil, to cover
Directions
    1. In a mixing bowl, add all prepped ingredients. Add enough olive oil to submerge the ingredients, and mix. Season with salt and enjoy.

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