Life Video·Creator Network

Make these Middle Eastern stuffed onions for a warming weeknight meal

Amina Al-Saigh’s take on Iraqi dolma wraps a beautiful array of veggies, herbs and rice into every bite.

Amina Al-Saigh’s take on Iraqi dolma wraps a beautiful array of veggies, herbs and rice into every bite

Overhead shot of a blue and white platter with stuffed onions in a tomato sauce. The platter is sitting on a bright blue surface.
(Photography by Amina Al-Saigh)

A take on Iraqi dolma, these stuffed onions with Middle Eastern flavours celebrate the humble vegetable — and put every piece of it to use. You peel the onions, then separate each layer to use as a container for the fragrant filling of rice, vegetables and herbs. Once they’re baked in a tomato-based broth, the onions become sweet, soft and melt-in-your-mouth, with a perfect amount of tartness thanks to a key ingredient: pomegranate molasses. Serve with a side salad for a warming weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 6 small, oval yellow onions (plus more, if needed)

Stuffing:

  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • ½ large red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, grated
  • 1½ cups short-grain rice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Sauce:

  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 3½ cups hot water
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Any remaining juices from the stuffing

Preparation

Place oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 450 F.

Peel the onions. Then, using a paring knife, carefully cut out the root, creating a hole about ¼ inch deep (this will help you separate the layers later on). Cut a slit in the onion lengthwise, stopping when you reach the centre.

Place the onions in a medium glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute to soften the layers slightly. (Alternatively, you can place the onions in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute.) Set aside to cool as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To make the stuffing, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

To stuff the onions, use your fingers to carefully dislodge each layer of an onion, popping them out one by one until you reach the centre. Repeat this process until you’ve separated all of your onions into single layers.

Place roughly 1½ tablespoons of stuffing inside each layer, then join the two edges of the onion so they overlap by at least a ½ inch. Note that the rice will expand while baking.

Arrange stuffed onions in a round 3-quart lidded sauté pan that’s at least 2 inches deep (you could also use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover with foil), fitting them tightly together to help them stay closed while cooking.

To prepare the sauce, mix ingredients together in a medium glass bowl. 

Pour the sauce over the stuffed onions. Cover tightly with the lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, uncover, then continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Check on the onions at this point to ensure there is enough sauce left in the pan. If needed, add another ½ cup water. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, allowing the top to brown, the rice and vegetables to get very soft and the sauce to thicken. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Serve with yogurt and salad on the side.

Serves 6.

Produced in collaboration with CBC Creator Network.

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