They make us cry when we cut them, and they might cause a strong, pungent breath, but onions add a great, robust flavor to dishes. In my opinion, the awesome flavor they provide can really transform a plant-based dish, like when you caramelize them or use them to top soups and salads. There are several types of onions, each adding their own, unique taste to dishes, whether raw or cooked. Here are some common onion types and suggestions for how to use them:

1. Red Onions

Red onions are delicious, whether you eat them raw or cooked. In particular, they’re great in salsa, over salads or on sandwiches. For cooking, opt to grill these babies; they’ll keep their beautiful red hue and make for a pleasant splash of color in your meals. Red onions are good choices for caramelizing. Try them in this Kale with Caramelized Onions.

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2. Scallions

These are commonly referred to as green onions, and they are great little onions to perk up potato dishes, soups and salads. Unlike the pungent taste and smell of some other types of onions, these little vegetables are relatively mild in flavor. They wont be overbearing to your dish or give it a strong onion taste. Green onions are perfect for garnishes because of this. Try putting them on top of this Creamy Potato and Cauliflower Soup.

3. Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are the most versatile on this list and can be used for dozens of purposes. You can put these onions in just about any dish your heart desires, be it raw or cooked. When you sauté or caramelize them, they will turn a nice, golden brown color. Use yellow onions in these recipes: Caramelized Vegan Onion Tart with Olives,  Onion Tart with Greens and Cashew Cream, Moroccan Grilled Eggplant, Onion, and White Bean Spread and Summertime Tofu Scramble

4. Shallots

You might mistake these onions for garlic because the two have a similar shape. Shallots have a sweet, bold flavor that makes them ideal for sauces, soups and gravies. They can also be sautéed with other vegetables. Try them in this Cremini Mushroom, Rainbow Chard, Shallot Soup and these Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Shallots and Crispy Kale Ribbons.

5. Vidalia Onions

This variety of onion is grown in Georgia, where the low-sulfur soil gives them an intense sweetness. Vidallia onions are perfect for cooking and caramelizing, as well as for making onion rings. Try using them in these Vidalia Onion Mini Cornbread Muffins.

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Lead image source: Lali Masriera/Wikimedia