It may be a small thing to look forward to amid the excitement over tomatoes and sweet corn, but there’s something promising and reinvigorating about the first harvest of fresh onions. Onions are the reliable pantry staple, the steadfast aromatic, and the foundation of a good meal. Land’s Sake is about more than providing amazing “hot crops,” though we’re certainly smiling wide when we bring in a big harvest of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and peppers and eggplants. Being able to buy pantry staples from your local farm is a reminder that buying local and sustainable food isn’t just a fashionable trend, it’s a way of living. It’s the ultimate, humble purchase at a farm stand that says you really eat as local and as fresh as you can. It brings the focus back to the necessities: you have to eat, and everything you eat (even an onion!) has to be grown by someone. When you buy food from a grocery store, you don’t know what the conditions on the farm are, what chemicals they use on their crops, how they treat their employees, or how they treat their soil. It’s not necessarily practical to get everything you consume and cook for your family straight from the source, but when you can buy your food from Land’s Sake, you can see what you’re investing in. You can walk around our fields and see how happy the vegetables are. You can catch a farmer hanging around the Farm Stand and ask the questions you have about your food and how it’s grown. You can actually pick a green bean or a tomato straight from the vine and eat it right there in the field without worrying about what chemicals you’re giving your kids.
Being able to buy an onion that came straight from the ground that morning is a reminder that you’re eating real food that’s grown well. You can’t get a fresh onion in a supermarket because they don’t have a two-week shelf life and can’t be trucked across the country and sold on a shelf. We harvest them in the morning for you to cook with over the next couple of nights. Fresh onions are crisp and juicy and — best yet — the acids that would normally make you cry haven’t fully developed, so you’re not going to weep over dinner while you chop them. They don’t have papery skins that flake off all over your car and kitchen. They’re delicious, and the season is as short-lived as their shelf life. Use these onions the same week you buy them and keep them fresh in the fridge, not on your counter. Though you can and should use these onions in anything you’re making, while you’re thinking about what you’re cooking for the week, try this recipe for Stuffed Onions. It’s seriously good, and subtly showcases how sweet a roasted fresh onion straight from the ground can really be.
Stuffed and Roasted Fresh Onions with Summer Vegetable Quinoa
One, be not afraid: it’s actually really easy to hollow out a fresh onion!
Two, this recipe scales well! Make one per person as a side dish or a few per person as a main. If you only make four stuffed onions, you’ll have plenty of leftover quinoa to eat on the side or for lunch the next day.
4 fresh onions from Land’s Sake
1 tablespoon of olive oil + more for drizzling
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 yellow or crookneck squash or zucchini, 1/4 inch dice
1 bunch of kale, de-ribbed and sliced into ribbons
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups + 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp kosher salt + more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp black pepper + more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh oregano
Trim the root end of the onion by slicing just enough off the bottom to give the onion a flat base to sit on, and then slice the first 1/4 inch off the top to open up the onion. Using a small spoon, melon baller, metal teaspoon, or grapefruit spoon, carve out the inside of the onion. Leave two or three layers on the outside, depending on the size of your onion. It’s not a tragedy if you poke through the bottom of the onion! Save and roughly chop the inside layers to saute in the next step.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and start sauteing your onion insides. While you’re cooking the onion insides, toast your quinoa over medium heat, shaking the pan to keep it from burning, until the quinoa starts taking on color. Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water to your quinoa and cook according to the package’s instructions.
While the quinoa is simmering, add the summer squash and minced garlic to the onions and saute until they begin to soften. Add the kale, spices, and herbs. Toss to coat, add the quarter cup of remaining vegetable broth, and cover to steam until the kale begins to wilt, about 3 – 5 minutes.
At this point, your quinoa should be fluffy, your vegetables should be cooked, and your oven should be pre-heated. Combine the quinoa with the vegetables and spoon into the onion cavities. Try to pack as much in as you can; it’s perfectly fine to over-stuff them! Place onions in a baking pan. Drizzle each with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil, rotate the pan, and cook onions for another 15 – 20 minutes or until they begin to brown.
Serve as a vegetarian main with extra quinoa or serve as a side to grilled meat.
Stuffed Vegetables with Beans and Barley from Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini, via Food52
Roasted Onions Stuffed with Bread Stuffing from Smitten Kitchen
Onions Stuffed with Beef from Bon Appetit