This wild onion has an even wilder story. It is believed to be part of an ancient line of clumping onions brought to the Piman people by Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century, from which it apparently “escaped” to become integrated into the landscape of the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness in Arizona.
The Tohono O’odham tribe calls this land home, and the name I’itoi represents the “Elder Brother,” their creator god. The I’itoi is also known as the “Man in the Maze” and depicted in a labyrinth design that can be found on Tohono O’odham jewelry or baskets. For the Tohono O’odham people, this unassuming onion is a sacred reminder of the creation story and our journey through the maze of life.
Every spring, it was a ritual for Oklahoma Cherokees to gather wild onions, which they used in all kinds of recipes. One of the simplest recipes was their very own version of scrambled eggs. Traditionally, bacon grease was used, but this version substitutes olive oil for a healthier option.
Wild Onions and Eggs
Servings: 3-4 servings
Active: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch of I’itoi onions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 6-7 eggs, beaten
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ¼ cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and water is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Top with beaten eggs and stir gently with a spatula to scramble, pulling the edges towards the center of the pan. Cook until the eggs are holding their shape yet still glossy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the hot pan sit on the burner for another 30 seconds or so. The residual heat will cook the eggs, making them extra creamy. Serve.
Historical recipe from: http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/Culture/CookBook/Cooking.aspx
If you’re around the Phoenix, Arizona area, you can purchase I’itoi Onions from Pinnacle Farms.
If you’re interested in growing I’itoi Onions, you can order seeds from Native Seeds.