If you like stuffed veggies as much as I do, you’re probably familiar with the old stuffed standbys—bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and the like. But have you ever had stuffed onions? With sweet juices that caramelize easily and an intense flavor that perfectly balances spiced grains, onions are the perfect vegetable to stuff!
This stuffed onion recipe combines that savory sweet onion flavor with warm and intense curried black quinoa for a feast that’s as striking as it is tasty.
Whether you’re looking for a vegan main, a gorgeous side, or just a filling snack, roasted stuffed onions fit the bill. They don’t take too long to prepare and are packed with healthy ingredients and bright spices. Pair these with our favorite chopped salad and dosas for a full, healthy, flavor-packed meal.
- Onions – To capture the right flavor and consistency, you’ll want to reach for yellow storage onions for this recipe. Look for large bulbs with intact, healthy outer layers. Red and white onions bring a bit of a stronger flavor vibe. They also make great stuffing onions but are better suited to a different filling.
- Black Quinoa – I like black quinoa for this recipe for a few reasons. One, it just looks absolutely striking against the white flesh of the onion. It also has a deeper, more earthy flavor than red and yellow quinoa. Plus, it has just a touch of extra sweetness that really enhances the sweetness of the onion. Quinoa is also gluten-free for anyone trying to avoid gluten.
- Red Pepper – I like to use hot red pepper to add a hefty dose of spice to my stuffed onions. The sweetness of the other ingredients lets this heat ride without being overwhelming. But if you prefer a milder dish, you can absolutely opt for red bell pepper or another milder option. Stick to red-colored peppers if possible as these bring a necessary brightness, both visually and flavor-wise.
- Raisins – One of the secret ingredients that makes this recipe stand out is the raisins. This is another sweet ingredient that really emphasizes the unique flavor of the roasted onions. Plus, it adds a softness that compliments the chewiness of the quinoa very well.
How to Make Roasted Onions Stuffed with Curried Black Quinoa
The key to stuffing onions is to gently encourage the centers out. This requires some boiling and a delicate touch. But once you get the hang of it, it won’t take long to prepare your shells. And the stuffing for those shells comes together surprisingly quickly.
1. Start the process by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and filling a pot with water. Set this to boil on the range.
2. Prepare your onions by slicing the pointed end off the top. You just need to take enough off so each onion will sit flat. Then turn your onion over to the rooty end. Slice off about ½ inch from this end. You want a large enough opening to be able to remove the insides, but not so large you lose too much of your onion shell. Remove the outer paper and the first thick layer and discard.
3. Place your peeled onions in the boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool. The centers should be softened and malleable, allowing you to remove them without having to cut into the outer layer. The easiest way to do this is to use a spoon to separate the inside layers from the outermost one and gently pull them out. If absolutely necessary you can make a slit in the outer layer, but you’ll have to pull the piece back together with twine or toothpicks to stuff them.
4. Place the hollowed onion shells in a circular baking dish. It’s okay if they touch—they’ll help hold each other upright. Chop up the insides of the onions and reserve 1 cup for the filling. The rest can be saved for another recipe or discarded.
5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, then add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add red pepper and cook for another minute or two.
6. Add your rinsed quinoa, water, and tomato paste to the skillet. Turn the heat to high and mix well to combine the ingredients. Continue mixing until the tomato paste mixes completely with the water. After the ingredients come 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 but not too soft. It will continue to cook in the oven, so you want it to be slightly underdone at this point. Remove the mixture from the heat.
7. Add raisins, cilantro, curry powder, and cayenne. Mix well. Add more cayenne and curry powder as desired.
8. Gently spoon the quinoa filling into each onion shell. Then generously drizzle the filling and onions with olive oil. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle each onion with additional chopped cilantro before serving.
There are plenty of alternative ways to prepare these stuffed onions depending on your preferences. Here are a few of my favorite variations.
- Ground turkey – Lightly cook ground turkey with curry spices separately then add it to the filling mixture. The meat adds a nice soft, chewy texture while bringing heaps of protein.
- Millet – Another great way to add more protein to this dish is to use millet in place of quinoa. This variation has a similar texture, though it’s slightly denser and crunchier (which I love), and is just as easy to make.
- Make them Latin – another great take on this dish is to replace the Indian spices with Latin spices. Keep the cayenne and replace the curry with a mix of cumin, chili pepper, and salt. In place of the raisins, try tomatoes or more chopped peppers.
How to Store and Reheat Stuffed Onions
We recommend storing any leftover stuffed onions in an ovenproof dish topped with a reusable wrap or plastic wrap. They’ll last about three days before they start to get mushy and go bad.
Once it’s time to reheat them, remove the wrap, add a bit more oil, then top the baking dish in tin foil. Put them in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until warmed through. If you want to restore some of that original crispness, you can broil them with the foil off for a minute or two at the end.
Some of Our Other Favorite Stuffed Veggie Recipes
As I said, I can’t get enough stuffed vegetables. Here are a few of my other favorite stuffed-veg recipes worth cooking up.
- Quinoa and Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
- Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb and Pine Nuts
- Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers
- Avocado Stuffed Squash Blossoms
- Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina and Sausage
- Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed Onions with Curried Black Quinoa
- 6 medium onions
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup red pepper finely chopped
- 1 cup black quinoa rinsed thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup cilantro or more to taste, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp curry powder or to taste
- pinch or two of cayenne pepper or to taste
- Put a large pot of water on to boil and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add raisins, cilantro, curry powder, and cayenne, mix well, and taste to see if you'd like to add more seasoning to the quinoa.
- 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.