The Handoff: Stuffed Onions with Fava Greens
By Brianna Bain
I left you on Tuesday with my thoughts on how to craft an appealing meal within the confines of the tricky go-between of Winter and Spring or what I like to call “Spinter”. It’s a time when cool weather crops are phasing out and seedlings are proving their stamina for full potential in the fluctuating weather. It can be a wobbly time in the kitchen to create seasonal masterpieces but it’s this challenge that fuels my creativity as I strive to sew together a meal that exemplifies the best of Spinter! Retracing the Spring Relay thus far, I have selected onions and croutons to carry forward from the leeks and crust of Aisha’s Coca Catalana. I have also pulled some delicious tender fava bean greens in from my little patio garden to represent one of Spring’s first offerings in these parts. Fava’s are ingenious crop that bring tasty spring beans, leaving behind nitrogen rich soils for summer planting.
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Unsure of how I would make onions and croutons the centerpiece of this meal I turned to my trusty vegetarian bible for some inspiration on where to begin: “1000 Vegetarian Recipes from Around the World” . There are a million ways to include onions and bits of bread into tasty creations; I wanted to try something new and stuffed onions fit the bill. I have stuffed vegetables in the past, like these tasty pablano peppers, but never onions. The lovely thing about stuffing vegetables is the flexible nature of stuffing. Mark Bitman offers his expert advice on stuffing vegetables in “How to Cook Everything”- he shares my views on the potential creativity and flexibility of stuffing, but warns cooks to keep an eye on the dryness, as the worst stuffed vegetable is a dried out one. A good stuffing is a unique balance of flavor, moisture and texture that can take practice to perfect.
To minimize the risk of stuffing failure I used the stuffed onion recipe from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes (page 215) as a guide for ratios. Once I had the outline I took full liberty in switching things up to satisfy my Spinter soul! In place of spinach I decided to use the abundance of fava bean greens I had in the garden. Fava bean greens are a recent discovery for me, as I never really knew you could eat these delicious leaves until I read a Sunset Magazine article describing their flavor as a cross between spinach and peas. I have long overlooked the majority of the fava plant and only sought their beans. Playing off the sweetness of the onion and the greens I brought in some California’s Thompson raisins and some roasted cashews for texture. Intuition led me to the addition of curry powder to really seal the deal; toss in a few croutons made of Johann’s Gluten Free garlic bread from Vista, Claifornia, top it with a dollop of goat yogurt and we have a stuffed onion that will surely rule all the days of Spinter!
Stuffed Onion With Fava Greens
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 50 min
Total time: 70 min
Yield: 2 stuffed onions
- 2 large white or yellow onions
- 1/2 cup roasted cashews
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 Tbs white wine
- 1 Tbs grapeseed oil
- 2 cups fava bean greens (substitute with spinach)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 cup goat yogurt (optional)
- 2-3 slices toasted bread (I used garlic bread)
- 1/4 cup stock (veggie or chicken)
- Cut tops of onions about 3/4 of an inch, cut bottoms just enough so that it can sit balanced on its own.
- Core onions with a small spoon or melon baller, set remnants in a bowl for building your stuffing. The larger you can get your onion cavities the better. Try to get the sides down to two layers of onion.
- Move cored onions to a oven safe pan and fill with 1/2 inch of water. Cover and bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
- While onions are cooking prepare stuffing by chopping remaining onion cores.
- Add chopped onion to a fry pan with grapeseed oil, sauté over medium heat until translucent ~10 minutes.
- Turn heat down and add white wine chopped cashews, raisins, curry powder and salt. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Toast slices of bread. Chop bread and Fava bean greens into bite sized pieces.
- In a medium bowl add bread, greens, and stock to onion mixture.
- Remove onions form oven, drain liquid and let cool enough to handle. Spoon stuffing into soft onion cavities. Stuff until packed tight and overflowing.
- Turn oven heat down to 350 degrees and bake stuffed onions for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with a dollop of plain goat yogurt.
- Dig in!
My only note for this recipe is to make sure you test the softness of the onion before you stuff. I pre-baked baked my onions for 25 minutes. The stuffing was moist and wonderful but the onion shell could have been a little softer. My advice would be to pre-bake your onion cavities for at least 30 minutes to avoid any crunchy onion.