Also called "Onion tree" or "Walking onion", the Egyptian onion is a rather rare vegetable that is mainly grown in Liguria, in the areas of Ventimiglia and Valle della Nervia.
Although the name of the crop is misleading, the exact origins of this type of onion are not known. The adjective "Egyptian" that makes up the name is in fact still mysterious. A link with theancient Egyptian culture it is presumed to derive from the fact that the Egyptians saw in the spherical shape of the onion or in its concentric rings a symbol of eternal life. Onions were even present inside the tombs of the pharaohs. However, we do not know for sure if this variety derives from the ancient civilization.
As evidenced by their scientific name "Allium cepa proliferum“, Egyptian onions are particularly prolific crops. Once planted, they are capable of giving life to aerial onions every year and in the years following the first harvest, their production increases exponentially.
Egyptian onion: properties
The Egyptian onion is grown and studied in China for several centuries. Local scientific literature has found that the Egyptian onion belongs to the small group of products that stimulate the trigeminal nerve in humans. This is specifically due to the presence of a particular enzyme, alliine lyase, capable of intervening not only on taste receptors, but on the entire sensory spectrum of the trigeminal nerve. It is a fundamental property to keep the dental pulp healthy, thus protecting the teeth.
Other important properties are also associated with the Egyptian onion. The vegetable has, for example, high percentages of C vitamin, substance with multiple functions. Vitamin C is known first of all for its effectiveness in stimulating the defenses of the immune system, especially in relation to the prevention and treatment of colds, respiratory diseases and flu syndromes. Vitamin C also plays an essential antioxidant action, protecting the body fromaggression of free radicals and thus counteracting premature cellular aging. This precious substance is also responsible for a significant contribution in the production of collagen, a protein that makes up the structure of all tissues in the body, from the skin to the muscles.
In the vegetable there are also other nutrients such as football, phosphorus, iodine and fluorine.
Although rarely used as a medicinal herb, the Egyptian onion guarantees a multitude of other beneficial actions. The bulb possesses anti-inflammatory properties, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge and antihelminthic. If consumed, especially raw, the Egyptian onion is therefore able to promote the general health of the human body.
How to plant the Egyptian onion
The bulb of the Egyptian onion it should be planted in the open ground or in a large pot, remembering that the vegetable prefers sandy soils over clayey ones. If possible, the bulb should be placed in a sunny place, in order to promote the growth of the plant.
For a good development it is necessary not to overdo it with irrigation even in the hottest months of the year, since the Egyptian onion is sensitive to too much water. The soil is also not necessarily fertilized with organic substance. The Egyptian onion, in fact, is not a very demanding plant from a nutritional point of view. It is also a resistant crop, able to survive even in rather rigid temperatures that go down to minus twenty degrees centigrade.
Among the number one enemies of the Egyptian onion are the snails that in a single night are able to destroy dozens of plants. Another enemy par excellence of the vegetable is thrips, an insect that is very harmful to many crops. The animal is capable of causing damage to the Egyptian onion both directly, through bites on the bulbils and leaves, and indirectly, through the transmission of viral diseases. Despite the attacks inflicted by the thrips, the Egyptian onion plants are in most cases very resistant, highlighting once again their reputation for adaptability and strength.
Harvesting of the Egyptian onion
To see the formation of aerial cloves of the Egyptian onion it is necessary to wait for the period between March and April but for their harvest it is necessary to wait until the summer. The ideal time to proceed is when the stem of the plant dries up and turns brown, presenting 5-10 cm shoots and well-formed rootlets.
The bulbs, on the other hand, can be harvested at any time of the year, uprooting them from the ground as is done with any other variety of onion. In order not to lose the cultivation, during the harvesting phase it is good to always leave some onions in the home so that they reproduce for the following year.
Egyptian onion in the kitchen
The Egyptian onion is highly valued not only for ease of adaptation and for the resistance that distinguish it but also for its goodness and its nutritional value. Like any variety of onion, the Egyptian one also offers great possibilities in the culinary field.
When harvested before complete ripeness, that is, before the characteristic red tunic is formed, the cloves appear for example particularly suitable for pickling. This vegetable is also excellent and healthy when eaten raw, as well as with a very delicate flavor when used in soups or as a condiment for pasta.
Egyptian onion: recipes
The Egyptian onion is a versatile ingredient. It proves suitable for one multitude of recipes ranging from soups, combined with other greens and vegetables such as potatoes, to tasty aperitifs. A decidedly appetizing dish is for example baked Egyptian onion. Let's see how to do it.
After harvesting the bulbs in the middle of summer, the Egyptian onions should be placed in a pan, covering them only with a glass of water and adding a pinch of salt. The onions must then be cooked, setting the oven temperature to 200 °.
As soon as the small vegetables reach a slightly golden appearance, they should be removed from the oven to prevent them from burning. In the meantime, put some cheese in another pan. The choice can fall on types such as scamorza cheese or fontina. As a next step, the cheese should be coated with freshly cooked onions.
Finally, everything is sprinkled with breadcrumbs and then put the pan in the oven at a temperature of 180 °. When the cheese begins to melt, you can remove the pan and serve the dish. The result will be nothing short of excellent.