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Hey you! Yeah, you! You the type always looking for an excuse to caramelize an onion? I know your kind. Well, why not use said onion as a edible bowl for a hearty main or side? This vegan, gluten-free dish takes the classic combo of olives, tomatoes, and garlic, and beefs it up, ahem – meatlessly of course – with red lentils. Shown here garnished with feta, those looking for a dairy-free alternative can sub with vegan feta, or even avocado.
- 2 large sweet onions
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red lentils (clean and pick over. Red lentils do not need soaking. If you are using another kind, follow the soaking instructions first)
- 1 1/2 cups water (again, if you are not using red lentils, check the required proportioning for water)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 156 ml can tomato paste
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup mixed olives (I used half hot mixed lives and half regular). Reserve a few olives for garnishing.
- feta cheese, or vegan substitute
- salt and pepper to taste
This recipe isn’t hard, it just has a lot of steps! Big picture – you’ll get the onions going, and then the lentils. After your onions have been roasting about half an hour, put the tomatoes in the oven. When the onion is cooked, you’ll use the inside of it, along with the tomatoes, and lentil mixture to stuff into the caramelized onion shell. Full details below!
- Remove the papery skin off the onions and then slice the onions in half.
- Drizzle olive oil on the cut side and then turn cut side down and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with more olive oil. This will use about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Roast in 350 degree oven until caramelized. This may take 45 minutes or so depending on your onions and your oven. Take the onions out every 15 minutes or so and brush with additional olive oil (about 1 tablespoon total). After about half an hour, pop the tomatoes in.
- When the onions are soft and browned, remove them and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the middle sections of onion, leaving about 1/4 to 1/8 inch or so of the outer shell intact.
- Take one of the middle sections and chop it into bite-sized pieces. You’ll add that to your lentil mixture shortly. Use the remaining middle pieces for another meal. They make a great addition to many dishes, such as stir fries, egg dishes, shredded wheat (joking).
- Place on baking sheet and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes until soft and gooey.
- Remove and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine lentils with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 or minutes or so, until tender and the water is absorbed.
- In a separate saucepan, add the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium heat.
- Add the tomato paste to the olive oil and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook and stir for a few more minutes.
- Add the lentils, chopped olives, and the chopped caramelized onions.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the lentil mixture into the caramelized onion bowls. Top with feta or vegan feta sub. Avocado would make another delicious topping option. Garnish with chopped olives.