The Ordinary Onion: Helpful Household Uses

As a food item, onions are usually served cooked, either as a vegetable course or as part of a prepared savory dish.  Onions are pungent when chopped and contain certain chemical substances (including a gas called, syn-propanethial-S-oxide), which stimulates nerves in the eye and often creates a stinging sensation.

However, in addition to culinary uses, onions can also be used for household purposes.  Read on to learn more about non-culinary uses of the raw onions, as well as a few of my favorite onion recipes.

  • Eliminate New Paint SmellPlace several freshly cut slices of onion in a dish with a bit of water. It will absorb the smell within a few hours.
  • Basement Deodorizer –  Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight.
  • Correct pet “accidents” – Leave several onion slices in the area of the accident. Pets are not fond of the smell of onion, so they’ll avoid returning to the same area.
  • Clean Your Grill – Rub a cut onion over the grates to scrub clean.
  • Remove Rust from Knives – Cut into a raw onion several times.
  • Polish Metal – Crush an onion and mix it with a little water. Dip a soft cloth into the mixture and rub it on the surface, until clean.
  • Remove Scorch Marks – Rub the area with a freshly cut onion, soak in cold water overnight and wash as directed.
  • Repel Ants – Place a bowl of onion slices in the area where ants are a problem.
  • Color Easter Eggs – Wrap eggs in onion skins, then secure them in a towel. Place the tied-up towel in a pot of boiling water and boil the egg as usual. The result? A beautiful, orange tint.

But wait…there’s more! Were your onions purchased in a prepackaged mesh bag? Don’t throw it away. Use it to keep your household sponges clean; it’s prefect for removing build up and giving your sponges longer life.

If you would rather cook with your onions, then check out these recipes:





Recipe: Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza, Courtesy:
Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza, Courtesy:

It’s always best to use vegetables that are in season.  During the Fall, that means vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, yams, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, leeks…the list goes on and on.  As the weather turns cooler, create a fresh and tasty pizza using these Fall vegetables.

Olive oil, for baking sheet and drizzling
Flour, for dusting surface
1 pound store-bought pizza dough, (fresh, or thawed if frozen)
8 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (2 cups)
6 cups (about 1/2 recipe) roasted fall vegetables, drained and coarsely cut
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, (optional)
Coarse salt and ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

  2. Brush a large baking sheet (preferably rimless) with oil, or line with parchment paper

  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch dough into a 12-by-16-inch oval (or as large as will fit on baking sheet); transfer to sheet.

  4. Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella.

  5. Scatter vegetables on top, and dollop with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and, if using, rosemary.

  6. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

  7. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Food Mingle Blog Alternatives and Substitutions:

  • Cut the vegetables in uniform shape and size so that they will cook evenly.

Yield: 4 servings



Recipe: Baked Pumpkin and Cream Pasta

Baked Pumpkin and Cream Pasta, Courtesy:
Baked Pumpkin and Cream Pasta, Courtesy:


By using seasonal ingredients, you’ll stretch your food dollar and get the freshest tasting results.  This dish uses pumpkin (or butternut squash) for a wonderful Fall seasonal twist on a weeknight pasta dinner.  Serve it as a side dish with your favorite protein or as a vegetarian star of the meal.

1 1/2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, diced or sliced
Olive oil cooking spray
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bundle Tuscan kale, chard or dandelion greens, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 pound penne or fusilli


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Arrange the pumpkin on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil spray, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and roast to tender, 30 minutes.
  3. Puree in a food processor (or mash) with the stock.
  4. Simmer the purée with the cream to thicken a bit; add half the cheese.
  5. In a skillet heat the olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat.
  6. Add the garlic and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the kale and wilt.
  8. Cook the pasta to al dente and save a small ladleful of starchy cooking water just before draining.
  9. Toss the pasta with the purée, greens and starchy water; transfer to baking dish and top with more cheese.
  10. Cool and store.
  11. Bring the pasta to room temperature to bake.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  13. Bake until brown and bubbly on top, 40 minutes or so from room temperature

Food Mingle Blog Alternatives and Substitutions:

  • I finished the dish with just a pinch of red pepper flakes, before baking it, adding some zip and a touch of color.

Yield: 6 servings

Source:, Courtesy: Rachel Ray, Show: Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day, Episode: Tuscan American


Recipe: Warm German Potato Salad

Warm German Potato Salad, Courtesy:
Warm German Potato Salad, Courtesy:

This basic German Potato Salad recipe uses white wine vinegar, mustard and bacon for an authentic preparation.


Salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes, scrubbed
3 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard 


  1. In a 5-quart saucepan, bring 1 inch salted water to a boil; reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add potatoes.
  3. Cover; cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Drain; cool slightly, and halve.
  5. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add onion.
  7. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat; add 3 tablespoons vinegar and mustard.
  9. Toss with warm potatoes.
  10. If desired, season with salt and pepper, and add up to 1 tablespoon more vinegar.
  11. Serve warm.

Food Mingle Blog Alternatives and Substitutions:

  • Add some fresh, chopped parsley for a garnish just before

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Everyday Food, Fresh Flavor Fast, 2010


Recipe: Grated Beet Salad

Grated Beet Salad, Courtesy:
Grated Beet Salad, Courtesy:

I feel like everyone likes beets, except me. To me, they taste too earthy…and yes, I cleaned them well. However, others rave about how much they love them. If you’re a beet lover, I think you’ll like this fresh and crispy raw beet salad. Get your grater ready, this could take a while!

2 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of Sugar
Coarse Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper
6 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. red beets, peeled and grated
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
2 Tbsp. finely shredded fresh parsley


  1. In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and a large pinch each of salt, and pepper.
  2. Whisk to combine.
  3. Gradually whisk in oil.
  4. Add beets, carrots, basil, and parsley.
  5. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Food Mingle Blog Alternatives and Substitutions:

  • Perhaps some shredded cabbage would be a good addition, but this salad really doesn’t need anything else.

Yield: 6 servings