Vegetarian Onion Dolma
Many vegetables can be stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat, and spices, but to me, nothing quite beats the beautiful flavors of a stuffed onion. The sweet caramelized skin tastes so good with the spicy rice and cool yogurt. I like to eat these warm for lunch or dinner, but always make extra to keep in the fridge so I can pop one in my mouth any time during the day. Yes, folks. I just reach into the fridge, grab one with my fingers, throw it into my mouth, and do a happy dance. They are just THAT good.
I like to use medium size onions, as opposed to really big ones, because I think smaller dolmas just seem more elegant. You can really use whatever size you like though. You can mix vegetables in the same pot too, making a combination of stuffed onions, peppers, and grape leaves. It’s all up to you. My family tends to pick out the onions, so rather than trying to push other veggies onto them, I just make a whole pot of sweet delicate onion!
- 1 cup long grain or basmati rice
- about 5 medium onions
- 4-5 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 green onions, chopped
- 4 Tbsp pine nuts
- 4 Tbsp dried currants
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Plain yogurt, to serve on the side
- Rinse and soak the rice in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes.
- While the rice is soaking, bang each onion gently but firmly on a wooden surface or countertop. Make sure to move it around to get the entire surface. Do this about 30 seconds per onion. We do this to loosen the layers so that they will be easier to separate. Peel each onion and then make a slice lengthwise, cutting only halfway through the onion. Now carefully work your fingers between the layers and separate them. The outer layers can be used for the dolma and the inner parts, which are too small, can be set aside and used next time you need onions. See above pictures for illustrations of this process and the video here: Making Onion Dolma
- To prepare the filling: Saute the green onions, pine nuts, and dried currants in the olive oil for a few minutes, then add the cumin, cinnamon, allspice, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for another minute, then add the drained rice. Give it a quick mix and turn off the heat.
- Fill each hollow onion layer about half full with the rice mixture. You don’t want to stuff it too much as the rice will expand as it cooks and then the dolma will burst. Pour about 1 Tbps of olive oil in the bottom of a non-stick pot and start arranging each dolma at the bottom. Pack them in tightly so that they are held together while cooking. You can also make a double layer, if you desire.
- When the onions are all in the pot, pour 1 cup of broth over them and place a ceramic plate on top inside the pot to hold everything in place. Place the lid on the pot and bring the broth to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the rice is fully cooked, about 30 minutes.
- Mix the lemon juice and crushed garlic together and pour over the dolma. Cook another 10 minutes or so. You want the onions to get nice and caramelized on the bottom, but not burned.
- When done, carefully lift the dolma out of the pot onto a plate and serve with cold creamy plain yogurt and some fresh pita bread.