Another fast-food treat that is hard to get in healthy form is onion rings. The amount of oil that is trapped in the coating of an onion ring that was fried at a temperature too low to seal the breading can be frightening. It is one of those side dishes that we are told to stay away from. Personally, I like them as much or more than French fries, and so when I saw this healthier version of onion rings in the article I referred to yesterday (the one that gave us home-made chicken nuggets) I adapted it to organics and here it is.
Organic onions are available at many stores, but for onion rings I would keep searching until I found the sweet yellow onions that are sometimes called Maui Sweet Onions and also referred to as Vidalia Onions. You can get very interesting flavors when you cook with sweet onions, and it is my onion of choice when I am shopping. I can almost always find them at Walmart and Fry's Supermarkets, and in organic form they are sometimes at Safeway's organic produce section, and otherwise at Sprouts or Whole Foods in Tucson.
You can make these onion rings up two basic ways. What you get at the burger joints--the classic onion rings--is produced by slicing the onions approximately 1/4 inch around. These rings are breaded and fried in such a way as to keep them mostly separate.
But if you have ever been to a restaurant that serves a loaf made up of almost paper-thin onion slices that are allowed to cook together, you will remember it. This is good stuff, although onion rings either way are wonderful, right?
BAKED ONION RINGS
1 medium organic sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
2-1/4 cups organic buttermilk
1/2 cup organic panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup organic whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup crushed organic cornflake crumbs
salt to taste
olive oil baking spray
Place the slices of onion in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk over them and let them soak for about 1 - 2 hours, refrigerated.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Combine the panko, breadcrumbs and cornflakes and place half of the crumbs in a large dish. Season them with the salt. Reserve the rest for when the first batch is used up. This should help avoid clumping and they should stick better to the onions.
Dip each soaked onion ring into the crumb mixture; coat well. Place the separated rings onto two cookie sheets. Spray lightly with the oil. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
This is as good a time as any to mention cooking spray. Of course you can buy it in both health-oriented stores and regular supermarkets, and it now comes in several types such as the classic Pam, or olive or canola oil both in organic and conventional forms. But if you want to, you can get an apparatus--mine is called Misto--that you fill with oil and pump up to pressurize it, and then it sprays your food.
I believe that the Misto-type of oil spray keeps the flavor true, which would be important if you filled it with your expensive, fragrant extra-virgin olive oil. So you might want to check it out the next time you are at a store like Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond.