For those who love these humble onion rings, this green version will take your taste buds and cooking skills to a new level. Here’s a recipe I’ve developed using green onions and collard greens in the produce aisle of all places. It takes only 30 minutes to make and uses no oil at all!
What is Green Onion Salad?
Green onion is nothing more than the green portion of a large onion. It is used often in Asian cuisine, but until recently, I had never seen it in North American supermarkets or prepared salads. An avid cook, I adapted the recipe from one my mother-in-law gave me and made it mine by slowly cooking the onions with a bit of salt until they become almost sweet and fragrant.
Unlike the common white green onion (scallions), these are creamy white and sweet, with a mild crunchy flavor. The contrast of the green with the white is striking but in no way detracts from the overall dish.
Why Green Onion Salad?
Yep, I’m dinner salad. But seriously, this salad is a fresh, healthy, and exciting alternative to traditional salads and sandwiches. It would be perfect as a lunchtime meal or an appetizer at a picnic or backyard party. The salad is light and refreshing, with a faint hint of onion. The slightly peppery flavor of the collards complements the green onions and vice versa.
A big plus is that this recipe uses no oil or butter, so it’s healthy while still tasting good. Another bonus is that it’s quick and easy to make – get everything into the pot at once, set your timer, turn on the heat, and there you go. If you know how to boil water, you can make Green Onion Salad!
Getting Ready to Cook:
Before you begin, wash and dry your collard greens. Drain any liquid from the can of green beans (or you can leave it all in if you prefer). Place in a large bowl and add the green onions, buttermilk, salt, garlic powder, cheese (optional), and ketchup (optional). Mix well.
Line a colander with paper towels or kitchen napkins. Place the ingredients in the pot. Fill with enough water to come up to the top of your ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. The greens should be soft but pliable enough to hold their shape in the salad. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes in the pot with the lid on.
Drain greens and onion in a colander. Pour excess water out of the bottom of the pot, reserving 1/3 cup or so as cooking liquid. Use this cooking liquid to strain the onion and greens. Discard solids.
Lay out a few paper towels and pat the greens dry with one towel. Place in a salad bowl, add onions, and gently mix them. Add more dressing only if necessary to reach desired consistency.
Place greens on an individual plate (you can also use a platter if you like). Top with onion mixture and garnish with red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste, or crumbled feta cheese (optional).
Serve immediately. You may want to top it with additional cheese if you’d like.
Step 3. Enjoy!
Any type of vinegar (apple cider or wine is preferable) works well in this salad, but distilled white vinegar is the standard for cooking oils. If using apple cider vinegar, use 1/4 cup in place of water and sit for 10 minutes before adding the greens to the onion to soften them further.
If you don’t have buttermilk, sour cream may be substituted, but reduce the amount to substitute for 1/4 cup of buttermilk.
Serve as an appetizer or side dish. The flavors in this salad are delicate because the onions only cook very slightly in the water. If you want additional flavor, sauté the green onions before adding them to the water (don’t forget to reserve some of that water!) and then add it back into your salad later.
Garnishes and Accents, Design Tips and Tricks
1. If you want to give this dish a little Asian flare, add some sesame oil before adding the greens. This can be done by simply drizzling sesame oil over the greens when you remove them from the heat, or they could be added after the onion and greens are already combined.
2. Cheese is an optional ingredient that gives this salad more flavor than it would have otherwise. If you don’t have any on hand, feta works well, too (in which case, omit the parmesan).
3. I have seen a few recipes that call for diced peppers and onions, but instead of adding these to the onions and greens, I chose to use red pepper flakes to add a little extra flavor.
4. Traditionally, green onion is used in this dish. However, I’ve also seen recipes with white onion used as well. The choice is yours!
5. The whole salad can be served as a side dish with rice or another starch, or it can be served as an appetizer by putting the salad on a plate and sprinkling it with shredded cheese and red pepper flakes.
6. The best way to dress this salad is with the reserved onion cooking liquid. This gives it that extra flavor! Use about 1/4 cup for every two tablespoons of actual dressing (if using olive oil, add the olive oil slowly to taste). Dressing ingredients should be added gradually. Add a mashed avocado if you want the salad to be even creamier.
7. The green onions become very soft when cooked and are almost sweet and miraculously disappear into the salad, which is why I used them in the first place! They also become a little bit translucent.
8. You can try adding some of your favorite seasonings to this dish, such as minced garlic or onion powder (adds extra flavor) or a dash of hot sauce (adds more flavor).
9. To make this dish vegan, use a vegan mayonnaise instead of buttermilk. This is also a good idea if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products. It’s evident in the photos that the salad isn’t vegan, however, since it’s made with cheese and sour cream.
10. I use plain green-label canned beans, but any regular can of beans will do. A 16 oz can (or less) should be suitable for this recipe.
Green onion salad dressing
This can be made in a few different ways. Water can be substituted for oil if the recipe calls for oil and vinegar. This is also a good idea if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. To make the buttermilk substitute, substitute sour cream (or vegan sour cream) for the buttermilk and then add lemon juice to taste. The base for the dressing is vinegar, but you can use lemon juice instead. I prefer white vinegar, which is more neutral than apple cider vinegar, to use for this salad.
- Whisk together the ingredients listed in the recipe and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve your salad with olive or vegetable oil and pepper to taste or any other garnish you desire!
Green onion salad maangchi:
Almost identical to the recipe listed above, except that the dressing is added directly to the salad instead of being drizzled over it. Also, there are no red pepper flakes for garnishment.
3. Add the greens (the onion-greens mixture from the previous step) and the dressing directly to your serving dish and mix them gently.
4. Add additional parmesan cheese if desired (not necessary unless you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products).
5. It’s incredibly delicious if you serve this salad with steamed rice to soak up all the tasty liquid.
6. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for later use.
- It’s sometimes hard to find buttermilk at the store, so I’ve included a recipe below that is similar to what they use in Greece, and I’ve made it with ingredients easily found in the U.S. If you have some Greek yogurt on hand, please feel free to use that instead of buttermilk.
- This salad tastes better if you let it sit overnight! This way, all the flavors will mingle together, and you will have a much tastier salad in the morning!
- I think this recipe is a perfect size. So if you’re making it for a small group (maybe it’s just the two of you), only make enough for the two of you, and then don’t store the leftovers. If you want to make it for a group of four to six people, use this recipe. If you make it for a larger group, use both recipes, divide the dressing between them, and make sure that you use plenty of greens in each bowl!
- You can add more or less lemon juice depending on your taste or what you have on hand.
What part of the green onion do you use for a salad?
It all depends on where you live and what’s available to you. In Korea, green onions are a prevalent ingredient used in many different dishes, especially salads, but here in the U.S., they are pretty hard to come by. I’ve only had buttermilk on hand once, and then I used sour cream, which worked well too!
That being said, I think the white parts are best for salads. The green part tends to be hard and woody and is not as pleasant to chew. The more translucent the onion is, the better it is too. That’s probably why my mom used white onions instead of regular ones.
The photos may tell another story, though!
This recipe is one of my favorite salads. I used to eat this salad at least once a week when I was younger, and it was always served with any side of rice or pasta dish. If you can’t find buttermilk, you can use plain yogurt instead, and if that’s not available, you can use plain yogurt and add some lemon juice to taste.
I like to use white vinegar and lemon juice in this recipe because I’ve found that the vinegar gives the salad a more balanced tart and sweet flavor, and the lemon juice adds another level of tartness. The red pepper flakes are an optional garnish, but I like them so much!
I hope you’ll try this recipe yourself, and let me know what you think about it!