Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lebanese Stuffed Onions

vegan stuffed onions

Lebanese Stuffed onions ( bassal mahshi)  is a family favorite that was actually my mother in law's recipe that she has been making and perfecting for many years. She serves it on holidays and special occasions, and it is absolutely delicious.

My mother in law's name is Toni ( short for Fortunae) and is called Nona by her 10 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Born to an Italian mother and  raised, and lived in Cairo for 45 years prior to coming to the US - she is a great Middle Eastern cook.

picture of our grandmother

 Everyone is thrilled when she goes to the trouble to make these little stuffed gems. Her recipe is made using ground meat, spices and rice; my recipe is vegan, yet it boasts the same delicious Middle Eastern spices and the great flavors as my mother in law's recipe.

My recipe is easy to make, but I must warn you it is labor intensive. The onions are boiled first, peeled after cooking, and each layer of the onion is removed, stuffed, and rolled individually.

 I made this recipe today jointly with my sister in law Amy.  otherwise it takes a novice a long time to peel and roll. It's good to have a partner to work with. ( My mother in law is a an experienced pro and can knock off a batch rather quickly.)

The ingredients are simple, yet the spices are somewhat more exotic.

Like many of my mother in law's authentic Middle Eastern recipes, she uses a significant amount of  healthy ground yellow orange turmeric ( available in any supermarket in the spice isle or any Indian ethnic store at a much more reasonable price)

The Middle Eastern term for stuffed onions is bassal macshi -
Basal is the Arabic word for onions and Machshi means anything stuffed.

4 large onions, cut according to the following directions ( see picture)

Filling: you could use any filling of your choice or use my vegan filling

My vegan Filling

  • 1 cup uncooked rice, washed and drained well ( brown or white)
  •  2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped small
  •  1/2 cup chopped parsley
  •  1/4 cup of  cilantro , chopped fine 
  •  1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  •  1 teaspoon turmeric
  •  1/4 cup of raisins , soaked for at least 2 hours and then drained
  •  4 Tbsp olive oil
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  •  1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
  •   juice of one fresh lemon

  • Filling Directions: mix all ingredients well and use for the stuffing of the onions

    large white round onions being cut in half
    Cut raw onions as shown partially through ( do not cut in half)

    pot of onions boiling
    Boil onions until soft
    onions peeled in layers
    Separate onions into halves

    Combine all ingredients and mix well. .

    example of stuffing in onion layer
    Fill each onion half with small amount of filling ( this is a picture that I took when I used soy granuals- forgot to take the current filling picture)

    onions with turmeric
    Roll, sprinkle with turmeric for color

    Place the stuffed onions one at a time in a circular motion in 2 qt saucepan to cook them.
    Cover with 2 cups of vegetable broth . Cover and cook on low until the onions caramelize and the rice is soft.
    To serve: remove onions from the pan and then place in a serving dish.

    vegan stuffed lebanese onions
     Layer in a Pyrex to serve

    My notes:
    Turmeric is so good for you. Recent scientific studies have been documenting turmeric has medicinal qualities that are good for the brain. I found an article by Dr. Axe that goes into great detail about why turmeric is good to add to your diet and a simple turmeric drink that you can make.

    These stuffed onions seem to be a hit with just about  any crowd.

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    Good food is my passion. I am gluten intolerant, busy. and strive for a healthy balanced lifestyle. It has taken me many years to develop and discover easy healthy recipes that meet gluten free, vegetarian/vegan and real food standards. On my blog I share my journey, my struggles, my discoveries, and my new recipes. I hope you find ideas, resources, and recipes that will be helpful to you. Come Back soon.

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    1. Judee, I love to learn about ethnic foods I've never heard of, and these Lebanese stuffed onions look incredible! I can see how they would be quite labor intensive, but great for a lazy Sunday reserved for cooking or for a special treat at the holidays. I can't thank you enough for creating a vegan filling and I'll be trying these soon!

    2. I'm a meat eater, what meat does your MIL use? Are the spices the same? These sound good and I'd like to try them.

    3. Judee, I love everything about these. I am a huge onion fan and these spices appeal a lot. I was thinking of using this differently to avoid cooking and peeling onions. I will let you know if I can pull it off. I am done making Shabbos and I was actually looking for something to cook.

    4. PLEase let me know if there is an easier way to make them.. I would love to cut back on the labor


    Your comments are appreciated. I love knowing who is stopping by to read my posts! Have a great day.