Burg­ers, sand­wiches and sal­ads dom­i­nate casual warm weather fare. How they go from mediocre to super star sta­tus is just one ingredient/​degree of sep­a­ra­tion.

Sweet Red Onions have just begun their sea­sonal har­vest­ing in the San Joaquin Val­ley.

They bring excep­tional fla­vor, sweet­ness and tex­ture to every­thing from piz­zas to pas­tas. To be sure, an Ital­ian Red or Fresno Flat sweet are quite dif­fer­ent from any onion rel­a­tive.

Alli­ums in gen­eral include round globe (red, yel­low and white) onions, gar­lic, shal­lots, scal­lions, leeks and chives. Packed with nutri­ents and antiox­i­dants, these kitchen sta­ples are used to impart bold and some­times savory heat to dishes.

Milder, sweet onions are ter­rific for eat­ing raw, pick­ling and grilling. In this class are well-​known Vidalia, Walla Walla and Maui Sweets. These pop­u­lar vari­eties have a pale yel­low skin with a white or light yel­low inte­rior.

Ital­ian reds have a flat­ter shape. As their name implies, are a red­dish to pur­ple bright color. Not all super­mar­ket red onions are sweet. Be cer­tain to seek out that flat appear­ance to get to the right choice.

Other red-​skinned sweet onions include Bermuda, Bur­gundy, Cipolle di Tro­pea or Tropea’s sweet. The pop of color is part of the red onion attrac­tion. The sweet, mild taste pairs nicely with greens like kale, arugula, baby spinach and but­ter or romaine lettuces.

Avo­cado is another ter­rific part­ner for sweet red onions. Famous cucum­ber, tomato and onion salad is imme­di­ately made bet­ter with sliced or cubed Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos.

For those “go to” potato, mac­a­roni and cold sum­mer sides, add diced Ital­ian sweets. The sub­tle lift can be enjoyed by chil­dren who don’t typ­i­cally say “yes” to onions.

Grilling plat­ters would be naked with­out onions. Switch it up and add sweet to the pan. Sausage and pep­pers? Add those onions, either raw, grilled or sauteed. Nat­ural sweet­ness is enhanced by grilling or heat to coax out the sug­ars.

Power bowls and kabobs are famous for col­or­ful bands of healthy ingre­di­ents. Invite Ital­ian sweet reds to the party. Assem­bled lay­ers of fla­vor will play nicely with that some­thing “sweet and cen­ter”.

Cal­i­for­nia is the largest onion pro­ducer in the United States and the only state to pro­duce both spring and summer-​harvested onions.

Baloian Farms, a fourth gen­er­a­tion fam­ily oper­a­tion, grows mul­ti­ple onion vari­eties, includ­ing reg­u­lar sweet red onions, as well as their heir­loom Sophia La Rosa red onions. Theirs are the first in the pipeline for the sea­son.

A nat­ural can­di­date for inside and out­door sum­mer recipes, reach for sweet red onions. Serve them fresh, grilled, roasted, caramelized or sauteed. A sim­ple, under­stated ingre­di­ent like these are the ulti­mate sweet spot.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.