Test Kitchen tips: Soak onions in water to soften flavor


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Want to use raw onions in a dish, but concerned they might be a bit too strong or pungent? Soak them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes before using.

Soaking the onions for 15 minutes or so in cold water will help to soften the their flavor, mellowing it out a bit. Perfect when you’re planning your next burger party, or if you’re fixing a salad like Nancy Silverton’s little gem with dates, red onion and Gorgonzola dolce (recipe follows below).


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Little Gem lettuce with dates, red onion and Gorgonzola dolce Total time: 40 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Note: Gorgonzola dolce is a sweeter type of Gorgonzola; it is available at cheese stores as well as select gourmet stores and well-stocked markets.

Gorgonzola dressing

10 ounces Gorgonzola dolce, divided

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 cups whole-milk Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

4 large garlic cloves, grated

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Combine 6 ounces of the Gorgonzola and the vinegar in a medium bowl and mash them together with a fork until the cheese is smooth. Add the yogurt and buttermilk and use a whisk to stir the ingredients together. Add the lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper if desired. Break the remaining Gorgonzola into small pieces in the bowl and stir gently with a rubber spatula to incorporate the chunks into the dressing but not so much that they become too smooth. This makes a generous 3 cups of dressing, more than is needed for the recipe; the dressing will keep, up to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.

Salad and assembly

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons, or about 10 thin round slices

6 small heads Little Gem lettuce (substitute: 3 small heads baby romaine)

Gorgonzola dressing

3 Medjool dates, pitted

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the onion slices in a small bowl of ice water and set them aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain the onions and pat them dry with paper towels before adding them to the salad.

2. Remove the rough outer leaves from the lettuce and cut off and discard the rough caps at the bottom of the cores, leaving the heads intact. Starting at the core, cut each head of lettuce in half lengthwise.

3. If you are making four individual salads, spoon one-fourth cup of the dressing on each of 4 plates; otherwise, spoon 1 cup of the dressing in the center of a long platter and use the back of a spoon to spread the dressing along the length of the platter. One by one, spoon 2 tablespoons of the dressing over each half head, using the back of the spoon to spread it along the cut sides of the lettuce halves, leaving the edges of the heads visible. As you dress the halves, place them faceup on the dressed plates, as the dressing on the plates will help keep the lettuce in place. For individual salads, place one lettuce head half, cut side up, on each plate, lean the second half against the first and the third against the second so they are stacked almost like a tepee. To build the salad on a platter, place the lettuce head halves along the length of the platter backgammon style, with one facing one direction and the one next to it facing the other direction.

4. Tear the dates into thin strips and scatter the strips over the salad. Scatter the onion slices over the salad, sprinkle with the thyme, grind pepper over the salad and serve.

Each of 6 servings: 185 calories; 9 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 11 grams sugar; 636 mg sodium.