Chow Town

March 8, 2014

Kitchen project gives scallions a second life

Some vegetables are long on growing time but have only short shelf lives, while others are quick to mature and can last for ages in the larder.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

Some vegetables are long on growing time but have only short shelf lives, while others are quick to mature and can last for ages in the larder.

But then there are those handful of special cases, vegetables that act like living beings in the kitchen, able to serve one meal and then take on a second life of sorts.

The useful technique of rooting plant cuttings in water to build new root systems is fairly common knowledge to green thumbs, but did you know the same technique can be as handy in the kitchen as it is in the garden?

And in these times before the bounty of spring, who couldn’t use a growing plant or two to perk up their day with new life and the thrifty taste of freshness.

There are actually a number of plants and vegetables that take to the water rooting process quite well, ranging from herbs like basil to lettuces and onions. It takes a bit of patience, but like any good barbecue pit master will tell you, slow and steady will always reap rewards.

A perfect place to start is with scallions, or green onions, those readily available long, green and white colored members of the onion clan.

The allium family of vegetables spans across the onion spectrum, catching everything from charming chives and leeks, to more robust garlic, ramps and all manner of onions in between. Onions are one of the simplest yet essential building blocks in any cuisine, and it would seem that there is an allium for any job.

Scallions generally fill the role of garnish, adding a final bit of bright freshness to any dish they grace. Nature acts as a perfect guide to where and how to prep these lengthy beauties, trimming off the base root end and any less desirable bits of the green tips.

Whereas the root ends have traditionally been thrown away or relegated to the compost bin, save your lively little tips and set them in a shallow cup of water to begin their second life.

Use the top of the trimmed scallion as a marker, bringing your water level to just below for optimum growth. After a day or two, you will notice a new green bit sprouting up from the center of your trimmings, which will grow by the day until you have a new scallion. If the water becomes cloudy, just dump out and refill.

I find that the new scallions take on a slightly milder flavor, but a delightfully fresh texture. They are a wonderful addition to any salad or used to garnish everything from a soup to a steak.

Next time you’re at the market, pick up an extra bunch or two of scallions and you can enjoy them twice as much.

Tyler Fox, personal chef/event caterer who emphasizes ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking philosophy as well as vegan and local/farm to table foods.

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