The Torpedo onion, once cured, has tightly layered papery skin with a blushed red violet. The bulbs are elongated and resemble a petite football or essentially a torpedo, hence their given name. Once peeled or cut they reveal multiple sets of translucent purple and white colored rings that give it the appearance of a shallot or leek more than an onion. Torpedo onions have a warm, sweet flavor and tender flesh.
The Torpedo onion is native to Torpea, a town in Calabria, Italy, where it has been cultivated since B.C. records. It does not have a large commercial market; it can mostly be found at farmers markets as it is grown as a specialty crop in mild climates that are similar to its Mediterranean origins. The soil is also crucial to the torpedo onion’s flavor and productivity. The Italian native Torpedo onion is known as Rossa di Tropea and it has a protected registered D.O.C. (Designation of Origin) within the European Union.