Saturdays are my favorite day.
They never used to be- for years Thursday was my favorite. I’m not sure if that had to do with the fact that Friends was on TV (did I just date myself?) or because it was almost Friday, but over ten years later my favorite day is Saturday. Not much happens on Saturdays: I get up, hit the gym, buy my groceries and buckle down for 3-4 hours in the kitchen, music blaring in the background as my grocery bags empty and my refrigerator fills. It’s my favorite part of the week, I’m doing what I love, and should something else fun get in the way (college football comes to mind), no matter how much fun I’m having, a small a part of me misses my day off and the sense of calm and accomplishment that comes from it.
That little blurb was neither here nor there, and isn’t even a good segue into this dish I’m throwing at you. I guess it’s just a little bit about me.
Now, for food. THIS FOOD. Different for sure. Delicious nonetheless.
Stuffed onions. Osh Pyozee.
When I first read this, I had no idea what a stuffed onion would be like. Would it be like a baked, stuffed apple? Like the bloomin’ onion from Outback Steakhouse. I don’t understand.
NOW I understand. Think stuffed shells, because that is what these bad boys were like only better, in my opinion. But you all know how I feel about pasta. In fact, I’d love to remake these with Italian sausage and marinara. The possibilities are endless, really.
Traditionally, these Afghani delights are stuffed with lamb, prune and feta, but since I had lamb in the Afghan stew, I wanted to make this one a little lighter. Therefore, I swapped it out for mashed garbanzos, keeping it consistent with the region’s flavors and offering a perfect vegetarian alternative for a very meat heavy table . They were no less delectable, and Gnocchi and Lima were eating the stuffing by itself. I had to fend them off with my wooden spoon lest they eat it all.
Notes: In order to make the onions soft and pliable, we boiled them first, allowing them to easily be peeled into layers, which, thanks to the natural curvature of the onion, easily wrapped around the filling. As for the feta, I used goat’s milk which was 3 times more expensive than regular. Talk about kicking me when I’m down. Nevertheless, it worked. All of it did.
- 2 large yellow onions
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- ¾ cup cooked basmati rice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp garlic, minced
- 1½ tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 10 pitted prunes, roughly chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (I used goat feta)
- squeeze of lemon juice
- Olive oil for brushing onions
- Prep the onions: Trim off the ends and, sliced lengthwise to the center (as if you are slicing it in half lengthwise (vertically, like the Prime Meridian), but only go halfway through). Remove the skin.
- Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, immerse the trimmed onions into the boiling water. Partially cover pot and gently boil onions for 20 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer onions into a large bowl filled with cold water. Pour out heated water and refresh with more cold water. Let onions cool in the water for a few minutes. To keep from burning your hands, work under water to gently separate the softened outer layers of each onion. Put onions layers in a strainer to dry and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Make the stuffing: Put the beans into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the beans, along with the rest cooked rice to a medium sized bowl. Heat 1 tsp oil in a small frying pan. Add chopped garlic and cumin seeds to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat if garlic starts to turn brown. Scrape cumin and garlic into bowl with rice. Add salt and pepper. Stir rice to combine with spices. Add the feta and blend it all together well, using your hands.
- Stuff the onions. Add a heaping scoop of the filling to the center of an onion layer. Roll the onion layer around the beans and put in the baking dish, seam side down. Keep going until all the filling has been used up. Brush the tops of the rolls with some olive oil and sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper.
- Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes, long enough to ensure it’s all heated through and the cheese has melted. Remove dish from the oven.
- Turn the oven up to broil. Remove foil from casserole. Baste onions with additional olive oil. Place under the broiler for an additional 5 minutes to brown them.