Scallions: A Jewel of Nutrition Hiding in Plain Sight

Bursting with vitamins, minerals, and compounds that better your health, the scallion is an overlooked superfood!

Scallions are most commonly known as a garnish that adds a pop of green color and a slightly bitter crunch to your meal. They're also sometimes known as a green onion, spring onion, or salad onion. The simple scallion has long been considered a necessity in both Chinese cooking and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Why? Because they're a nutritional jewel hidden in plain sight!

Bursting with vitamins, minerals, and compounds that benefit your overall health, the scallion is an often overlooked superfood. They're part of the allium family which also includes garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots. Allium vegetables contain organosulfur compounds which get released when you chop them and break them down while chewing. These healing compounds are capable of fighting heart disease, diabetes, serious infections, and even cancer. Recent studies have shown that organosulfur compounds are able to stop the growth of cancerous tumors by triggering the death of cancer cells and preventing new ones from forming.

When it comes to long term preventative health care, the scallion has your back. And your blood. Just one cup of chopped scallions has 259% of your daily vitamin K needs. Vitamin K helps your blood clot properly and regulates blood calcium levels. Scallions are also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and minerals like iron, potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium, and selenium. This overachieving vegetable is also full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

The powerful punch of all the nutritional benefits found in scallions make them a huge support for your immune system and capable of acting like an antiviral medication, warding off infections and preventing viruses from forming. Hoping to avoid the flu this winter? Feeling your seasonal allergies set in? Add scallions to your daily diet!

The icing on the scallion (pan)cake is that there's only 32 calories in 1 cup of chopped scallions! They have a bright, crisp flavor that's more subtle than a full grown onion. You can roast 'em, grill 'em, pickle 'em, bake 'em, dry 'em, and even eat 'em raw. Toss them in your salad, chop them up and bake them into cornbread and biscuits, add grilled scallion to salsa and dips for delicious flavor, or roast them to crispy perfection and add them to soups or hummus. You can even blend them with cream cheese for an easy, zesty dip.

Here's the best way to clean and chop your scallions before cooking them.

To enjoy scallions even more, try making the winner of Food 52's Best Recipe with Scallions:

Scallion and Coconut Rice with PorkFood 52/Ginger Root

Scallion and Coconut Rice with Pork

Recipe by Ginger Root

Serves: 4 Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 large scallions, thoroughly washed, trimmed just above root
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3/4pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon good quality fish sauce (like Red Boat or Three Crabs)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4cups medium grain Calrose rice
  • 1 1/4cups chicken stock
  • 3/4cup coconut milk (shake can before opening)
  • 1 head of baby bok choy (optional), end trimmed, leaves separated, washed, and sliced crosswise
  • 1 wedge of lime, for finishing
Directions:
  1. Prep scallions by slicing 1/3 cup of white and light green parts. Thinly slice dark green part of scallions for 3/4 cup, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or similar pot. Add ground pork, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of minced ginger and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. When meat is no longer pink, add fish sauce and cook for another minute or two, stirring. Transfer meat to a bowl and cover with foil.
  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon canola oil to pot, followed by remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon of ginger and 1/3 cup of sliced white and light green scallions. Cook, combining with wooden spoon, until fragrant, about a minute. Add rice and stir to coat, until rice is shiny. Add stock and coconut milk, stir to combine and cover. When rice begins to bubble, turn heat down to simmer. Set your timer for 20 minutes.
  4. While rice is cooking, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add 1/2 cup of sliced dark green scallions. Crisp up scallions by stirring frequently, remembering that they will go from crisp to burned in a second. Since they are dark, you won't have as obvious a visual clue as with onions or shallots; I usually rely on smell. Once they start to smell dark and smoky I start to look for golden brown charred edges and begin to remove onions by the forkful to a paper towel lined plate until they are all done. It's not the most delicate maneuver but they are delicious and worth it.
  5. If you are using the baby bok choy, add it to the still hot skillet once you've removed the crispy scallions. Cook in scallion oil until leaves are wilted and stem begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. When timer goes off, remove lid from rice pot and give mixture a stir. Rice should be perfectly cooked, plump, and almost risotto like, though without the extra liquid. Stir in reserved pork, crisped scallions, remaining 1/4 cup sliced dark green scallions, and bok choy if using. Finish with a squeeze from a lime wedge. Serve immediately and enjoy

Scallions are available year round, but tastiest in the spring and summer during their peak season. When you're choosing scallions look for a firm white base and stiff, brightly colored stalks. No yellow ends. To keep them fresh in your fridge, wrap them in a damp paper towel (after rinsing and patting dry) and then place them in a plastic bag or storage container. They'll stay fresh for 3-4 days.