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3 Ways With... Alliums

Allium is the Latin word for garlic, and first came to usage in 1753 to describe the genus including onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives.

It's thought that the word may stem from the Greek aleo - to avoid, due to the strong smell of the garlic. However, don't let the smell put you off. As well as adding flavour and vibrancy to a range of means, alliums are rich in organosulfur compounds, which may help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Research suggests that the consumption of alliums may have anticarcinogenic effects.

As we wave the tail end of Spring goodbye and come into the bright blue skies of summer, it's time for harvesting fresh green onions, garlic chives and full, fragrant bulbs from the earth. I used a range of Hooksgreen's allium varieties to create some new recipe ideas for this season - a simple but tantalising salad dressing, an irresistibly chewy focaccia and a classic crispy and cheesy potato tart.

Welsh Onion Sweet Green Salad Dressing

Despite the name, Welsh onions have nothing to do with Wales, rather stem from China (pardon the pun). 'Welsh' is actually an obsolete way of saying foreign, non-native. They're also known as bunching onions, long green onions, and spring onions. Whatever they're called, blitz them up in seconds to transform any salad into something special and seasonal.

Welsh onion sweet green salad dressing
  • 1 welsh onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard or mustard seeds
  • 100ml olive oil
  • Good splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Place the chopped green stalks of the welsh onion into a stick-blender jug or liquidiser, along with the crushed garlic and the rest of the ingredients.
  • Blend until one homogeneous, bright green liquid
  • Pour into a small glass and serve over crisp lettuce leaves and your favourite salad ingredients.

Should keep in the refrigerator for 3 - 5 days.

Garlic Chive Mediterranean Focaccia

Have you ever made focaccia at home? It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. If you have some flour and some free time, why not give this a go and impress your guests or treat yourself to a colourful picnic with this beautiful bake.

Garlic chive mediterranean focaccia

(Makes two focaccias of size 20x27cm)

For the dough:
  • 500g '00' white flour
  • 1/2 packet instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 480ml lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the topping:
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 aubergine
  • Half a red pepper
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 50g light cheese such as mozzarella
  • Salt & pepper to taste
To garnish:

The '00' flour is traditionally used for Italian recipes such as pizza and pasta, but if you can't find it, the recipe works just as well with plain flour, or you can even try experimenting with other grains such as spelt and wholewheat.

  • Mix the water and the yeast in a separate bowl and stir with a fork. Leave for 5 minutes until frothy.
  • Place the flour and salt into a large bowl or pan and stir together. Add the yeast mixture and stir everything together with a fork, then start to knead it until the dough holds together and becomes smoother. Cover with a lid or a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for around 6 hours, until the dough has at least doubled in size.

Around six hours later:

  • Take a look at your bread dough and see if it has risen, then coat the surfaces of your baking tins in olive oil. Separate the dough into two and pour each one into a pan of its own, smoothing out the dough with your fingers until it reaches the edges of the pan.
  • Smooth and press down with your fingers making dimples in the dough, then drizzle with more olive oil and leave to rise again whilst you prepare the topping
  • Heat the 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the crushed garlic and chopped onion, caramelizing on a low heat.
  • Cut the aubergine into slices widthways and quarter them. Add to the pan and cover with a large lid for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Chop the pepper into thin slices and add to the pan with a generous pinch of salt, stirring until the aubergine starts to brown. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  • Use a skimmer or a fish slice to remove the cooked vegetables from the pan, and distribute evenly onto the focaccia doughs. Spoon some of the remaining oil from the pan generously over each dough. Do not worry about over-oiling as the bread will absorb all of the oil, making for a crunchy yet chewy crust.


  • Chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters and sprinkle over the dough. Dot bits of cheese around the toppings and bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
  • There may be olive oil bubbling around the edges but don’t worry about this - the bread will absorb it all once cooled slightly.
  • Sprinkle with herbs and garlic chives and cut bread into slices. This can be enjoyed hot fresh out the oven or cold to be taken for a picnic.

Crispy Olive Oil Welsh Onion Cake

Turn the everyday potato into the star of the show with this layered savoury cake, stacked with cheese and gooey onions. Although this dish is usually made with butter, I experimented with olive oil for a healthier twist that also happens to be vegan (if you omit the cheese!)

crispy olive oil welsh onion cake
  • Olive oil
  • 8 medium sized potatoes
  • 5 welsh onions
  • 100g grated cheese such as hard sheep's cheese, cheddar etc
  • Salt & pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Chop the onions and add to a pan on a low heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • Wash the potatoes well and slice into rounds. I like to leave them skin-on for a more rustic effect. Add to a separate frying pan on a low heat with a generous coating of olive oil
  • Let the onions cook until soft for around 15-20 minutes, then turn off the potatoes and carefully start to arrange in a spiral pattern in a well oiled circular cake tin.
  • Layer one round of potatoes, onions, cheese, salt & pepper and so on until you have used all of the ingredients. Top with a final layer of cheese and a generous drizzle of olive oil and bake for 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown
  • Top with some chopped fresh onion stalks and serve as a main with salad or as a side accompaniment to another meal

Recipes created by Elena Pollen

Elena is a creative writer who has written for Quinteassential, The Permaculture Research Institute and The Organization for World Peace, as well as maintaining her own blog about permaculture living. She believes in local and organic food practices and follows a vegetarian lifestyle.