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Jul 6, 2014 06:15 PM

Onions. Do you "count" them as a vegetable when planning a meal?

Please don't refer me to The National Onion Board

Here's what I mean -- I'm prepping dinner. My usual strategy is protein-starch-veg-veg. Last night, for two:
egg noodles, turkey meatballs, sauce.
Sauce started with an entire onion caramelizing, then a pseu-dal-fredo plus a dollop of pesto.
Super yummy.
However, I'm groping through my head For A Vegetable for Dinner!!

Looking around. Spinach? That might be good, but would be another stir-in. Something on the side completely?

Now, I'm not asking for a suggestion for a side for my dinner, which is completed and providing us with its nutrition : ).

What I'm asking is -- generally when you cook, do you "count" onion as a vegetable? I know there are onion sides like au gratins and chutneys and salsas and soups... but when you put onion INTO a dish, does that meet the "vegetable check-box" for you guys?

EDIT: I guess I'm really thinking about nutritional balance in terms of a complete meal.

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  1. If the onion constitutes an actual side, then I count it as a vegetable. It's a question of quantity and substance. The au gratin dish you mentioned qualifies. As an ingredient in a sauce, no. As a topping for a burger, like caramelized onions, I count it as a condiment, not a vegetable.

    1. Depends on the amount. If I make fajitas, everyone ends up with a significant quantity of onion. But, if it is only a little bit, no. It doesn't have to be "on the side" for me to count it though.

      1. No. And I've never looked at what nutritional benefit they offer.

          1. re: John E.

            Yes, but are they "enough" to count as one of the veg at dinner?

            1. re: Kris in Beijing

              Purely from a nutritional standpoint, however we may feel about it, one cup of raw onion counts as one vegetable serving. I really love onion, seriously love, but it's not often I get that much in one meal, except when I make caramelized onions; even then I might fall a little short. But who's counting when it comes to onions? They're good for you, they're tasty, they go with just about everything but dessert! :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  In terms of nutrition, no - just a bit of their Vitsmin C gets destroyed by heat. The other values don't change too much.

              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                I don't always include a starch at dinner. I would not count the onions in a bolognese saucexas a vegetable. We had pork ribs last night. I served carmelized onions with the smoked ribs, but I didn't consider them as a vegetable, I didn't really consider them at all, except that I like to eat them with meat.

                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  Think steamed 'peas and carrots' together in a serving bowl. Now think peas and (sweet) onions or carrots and onions or beets and onions etc etc.
                  Same with adding whole steamed cloves of garlic as part of a veg. dish.
                  I do it all the time.

              2. Pretty much every time I grill about anything, I'll grill THICK slabs of onion... as a side dish.

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