Soil Meets the Table
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
Tree onions, topsetting onions, walking onions, or Egyptian onions, Allium × proliferum, are perranial onions, similar to common ones you may find in a store. But the difference is it shows a cluster of bulblets where a normal onion would have flowers. It is a diploid hybrid between the bunching onion and the shallot. Tree onion bulblets will sprout and grow while still on the original stalk. They may bend down under the weight of the new growth and take root some distance from the parent plant, giving rise to the name "walking onion." It has been postulated that the name "Egyptian onion" derived from Romani people bringing tree onions to Europe from the Indian subcontinent.
Tree onion greens are mild and sweet. It is diversified and useful in every stage - young plants may be used as scallions in the spring; may be cooked or used raw as a part of salads, salsas, or Asian recipes. Diced scallions are used in soup, noodles, seafood, sandwiches, curries a stir fry. The underground bulbs are particularly tough-skinned and pungent, and can be quite elongate, like leeks.
We went to an authentic Chinese restaurant where my 8-year-old daughter INSISTED to go to because she loves their 蔥油餅 cōngyóubǐng dish (known as a scallion pancake, it is savory, unleavened flatbread folded with oil and minced scallions). To be a good sis, my 15-year-old daughter went to the garden this morning, harvested some greens off the tree onions; followed a cooking YouTuber, and made the scallion pancake. And was it delicious! Not only does it look good, but tastes awesome, better than any scallion pancakes we have ever had in the restaurants. This is our soil to the table.