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Vidalia Onions Stuffed with Rice-Lentil Pilaf


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Serves 4 | Prep Time | Cook Time

Ingredients

4 large Vidalia onions
olive oil spray
salt and pepper

3/4 cup brown rice
2 tbsp. tomato paste
water (see instructions for amount)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes--or to taste
1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 teaspoon salt--or to taste
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pinenuts or slivered almonds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 F.


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (you'll be glad you did this when it's clean-up time).


Peel the onions and trim the bottoms so that they stand upright.


Cut about 1/2 inch off the tops and set the trimmed parts aside.


Put the onions on the baking sheet and give them a very quick spray of olive oil.


Sprinkle with a little salt (if using) and grind a little black pepper over them.


Bake them until tender and slightly caramelized around the edges, about 45 minutes.


Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.


Leave oven on, reducing the heat to 350 F.


While the onions are baking, prepare the pilaf.


Chop whatever is usable of the onion tops into small pieces.


Heat a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting top or a rice cooker sprayed lightly with olive oil.


Add the onions and sauté until tender.


Add the rice and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for one minute more.


If you are using a rice cooker, add 2 3/4 cup water; if you're cooking on the stove, use 2 1/2 cups water.


Add the spices, lentils, and salt and stir to combine well.


Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes.


Turn off or remove from heat.


When the onions are cool enough to handle, remove their centers by pushing up from the bottom; be sure to leave a shell at least 2 or 3 layers thick. Cut off a bit of the onion center and return it to the onion to seal the bottom. Place the onions in a large, covered baking dish that has been lightly oiled.


Chop the onion centers and add them, the raisins, and the pinenuts to the rice mixture. Check the rice--it should still have some water in it. If if doesn't, add 1/4 cup water. Spoon the rice mixture into the onions, pressing to pack it in and mounding it slightly over the top. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of water over the top of each onion, and put 2 tablespoons of water into the bottom of the baking dish. Cover tightly, and put in the oven. (If you have any rice mixture left over, put it in another covered baking dish and bake it along with the onions.)


Check after 20 minutes to see if the rice is tender and not too dry; if it isn't completely cooked, return it to the oven for 5-10 minutes, adding a little hot water if it is too dry.


Pairs Well With


Notes

This recipe requires a little bit of effort, but it's worth it. (From the 'FatFree Vegan Kitchen' blog, adapted from a recipe in 'Laurel's Kitchen' by Laurel Robertson)

Note: If you'd like to make the pilaf alone, saute 1/2 cup of chopped onions at the beginning of the recipe and follow the basic directions, putting it into an oiled casserole dish for baking.

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