Spring Onions Hit the Right Flavor Notes of Spring

Spring Onions Hit the Right Flavor Notes of Spring


Chef Saboor Zafari is cooking with spring onions

Chef Saboor Zafari of Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda uses them in his recipe for aushak, or Afghani dumplings

Spring onions look like they were designed by Apple—beautifully smooth, curved bulbs the size of robins’ eggs that fit tidily in the palm, topped with long, neat shoots that are slender, graceful, vivid-green. Flavor-wise, they are scallions’ gentler, more refined older siblings, with a fresh, mellow crunch and juicy-yet-tidy young elegance. And though we love scallions’ peppery, assertive bite, more mature (but still miniature) and succulent spring onions sure make good company as outdoor dining and grilling weather sets in.

Since they are simply baby onions, spring onions can be found in a range of varietals and colors—red, yellow, creamy white—all with long, tapered, hollow green leaves, good for bunching together in farmers market bins. Both bulbs and shoots add graceful, varying potency raw or cooked to spring salads, steaks, more delicate proteins, and any dish in need of a little eye-opening pop and pizazz. And, of course, charred spring onions served with a touch of good salt for dipping make a wonderful, sun-drenched-tasting, vaguely Spanish side to a grill gathering.

At Angela’s Kitchen in Alameda, chef Saboor Zafari loves the simplicity and versatility of spring onions, how they add herbal freshness and effortless color to his Mediterranean dishes. In his recipe for aushak, or Afghani dumplings, spring onions are met with leek, an allium whose long winter season runs generally from October through May, making this dish a flavorful meeting of two seasons in each freshly-wrapped bite.


Chef Saboor Zafari’s Aushak


Dumpling Filling
1/2 cup spring onion, both bulbs and green parts, minced
1/2 cup leek, white part only, minced
1/2 cup cooked fresh baby spinach, cooled
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Pinch chili flakes


Yogurt Sauce
1 cup drained Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried mint
Pinch Kosher salt


16 fresh 2” by 2” ravioli squares (available in specialty markets; raw dumpling or gyoza may also be used)
2 cups of preferred meat or tomato sauce
Dish of water for wetting ravioli during filling


In a bowl, combine dumpling onion filling ingredients and set aside. In a second bowl, combine yogurt sauce ingredients and set aside. Distribute fresh ravioli squares over a work surface lined with parchment paper. Working with one raviolo at a time, wet the edges and gently place up to one tablespoon of onion mixture in the center of each raviolo. Fold over and pinch shut. Once all the dumplings have been assembled, heat water in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket until boiling. Place dumplings in steamer basket and cover. Steam dumplings for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring preferred meat or tomato sauce to gentle simmer. Spoon the yogurt mixture onto a serving plate to create a base. Layer with steamed dumplings. Top with meat or tomato sauce and additional dried mint, if desired.