Storage onions have a low moisture content and thick skins, which makes them perfect for cooking techniques such as braising, caramelizing, and roasting (spring onions, on the other hand have thinner skins and a higher moisture content, making them more suitable for raw preparations).
I cook with storage onions just about every day, yet I’ve never considered making them the star of a meal. When I was assigned to create an entree for this month’s storage onion themed Progressive Party at Kitchen PLAY, it was time to change that.
Kim from The National Onion Association planted the idea of stuffed onions in my head. I’d never heard of stuffed onions, and was immediately intrigued. I googled “stuffed onions” and “roasted stuffed onions” and did find some recipes, most of which featured some sort of meat (generally ground beef or lamb) and/or bread in the stuffing.
Back in the days when I was a vegetarian, I was really sweet on a curried rice stuffed pepper dish. I used to make it all the time, but this was 15-20 years ago, and I don’t have that recipe written down. So I went by memory to come up with what you see here, using onions instead of peppers as the “shells” and quinoa instead of rice in the filling so it’s packed with protein.
I decided to make this dish vegan because the holiday season will soon be upon us, and I think it’s always nice to have a great meatless/dairy-free dish in one’s repertoire. These stuffed onions are also gluten-free. They aren’t difficult to make, and having them on hand will ensure that guests with special dietary needs will have something filling and nutritious to eat. That said, these also make a great accompaniment to the more traditional (meat-y) holiday fare.
Please don’t feel you have to save these for a holiday table, though. They are a perfect meal or snack anytime…if fact, I just had a cold one for breakfast.
Recipe for Roasted Onions Stuffed with Curried Black Quinoa
Yield: makes 6 stuffed onions
As with all of my recipes, use organic ingredients whenever possible.
*6 medium onions
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 fat clove garlic, peeled and minced
*1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
*1 cup quinoa (I used black quinoa), rinsed thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer
*1 1/2 cups water
*2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
*1/4 cup raisins
*1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more to taste), plus more for garnish
*1 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste
*pinch or two of cayenne pepper, or to taste
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Slice off a very small portion of the bottom end of each onion so they will stand without rolling over, then cut a slice about 1/2 inch thick off the tops of each onion. Peel off the outer papery layer and one of the thicker inside layers of each onion. Compost or discard the onion trimmings.
3. When the water is boiling, carefully add the peeled onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Allow to cool, then remove the center portion of each onion. I did this by scooping it out with a sharp tipped spoon from the top, but you could also make a slit lengthwise along the side of each onion to make it easier (though then you'll have to push your onions back together so the filling doesn't fall out).
4. Place the onion shells in a shallow baking dish (it's fine if they're all touching), then chop enough onion centers to equal 1 cup. Reserve the rest of the onion centers for another use.
5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (I use cast-iron) and add the onion and the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add the red pepper and cook for another minute or two.
6. Add the rinsed quinoa. the water, and the tomato paste. Turn heat to high, and mix well with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients and dissolve the tomato paste. After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender (it's ok if it's still a little crunchy because it will continue to cook in the oven). Remove from the heat.
7. Add raisins, cilantro, curry powder, and cayenne, mix well, and taste to see if you'd like to add more seasoning to the quinoa.
8. Gently spoon the quinoa filling into each onion shell, then generously drizzle the stuffed onions with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro before serving.
The National Onion Association is sponsoring a great giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. If you recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, then post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter, you could win cash! All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $100 (6 prizes total). The deadline is October 31, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!