I always look forward to the first availability of Walla Walla onions in this area. They are wonderfully sweet, large, and delicious!
Walla Walla onions originated in Italy on the Island of Corsica. They were brought to the Walla Walla valley here in Washington state by a French soldier over a hundred years ago. Now they are grown in many other places as well, including Whatcom County. (Read more about Walla Walla onions.)
Because of their low sulfur content, which is what makes them sweet, Walla Walla onions aren’t as likely to make your eyes water when you chop them. They tend to be very large and very round, perfect for stuffing!
This recipe takes awhile to prepare, though most of the time involved is baking time and doesn’t require your attention. The result is mouth-wateringly delicious, and worth every minute of your effort.
- Prep Time:
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- 2 large Walla Walla onions, skin-on (Half Acre Farm u-pick, Ferndale)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted (Breckinridge Farm, Everson)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves (home garden)
- Salt (see Exceptions)
- 1 large clove green garlic, minced (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson)
- 1/2 lb kale, stems removed (home garden)
- 1 Tbsp lemon balm, minced (home garden)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten (neighbor’s roadside stand, Lummi Island)
- Pinch of chili pepper, fresh and chopped or dried and ground (I used dried habanero–friend’s garden, Lummi Island)
- 1 cup bread crumbs (homemade Quick Brioche, made with flour from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, Bellingham)
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (Appel Farms, Ferndale)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Trim the ends of the onions, leaving the skins on, and cut them in half horizontally. Put the onions, cut-side up, in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the butter, scatter the thyme sprigs over the top and season with salt. Add 2 cups of water, cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil carefully, avoiding the hot steam, and bake, basting with the pan juices every 15-20 minutes until the edges of the onions are browned, about 45 minutes to 1 hour more. (Add more water if pan is running dry.) Remove from the oven and cool.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, add the garlic and stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Working in batches, if necessary, add the kale, stirring to partially wilt before each addition. When all the kale has been added, raise the heat to high, season with salt, and stir to combine. Cook until fully wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the kale in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze as much liquid from the kale as possible and coarsely chop.
Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees F.
Scoop out the center of each onion, leaving at least half an inch of the outer rings, to make onion “bowls”. Coarsely chop half of the onion centers, and reserve the rest for another use. (I mixed them into hamburger patties to serve with this dish.) In a mixing bowl combine the chopped onion, kale, lemon balm, egg, chili pepper, breadcrumbs, and chopped thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture evenly among the scooped-out onions. Sprinkle feta cheese on top of the stuffed onions. Bake for 30 minutes until browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Appel Farms Cheese Shoppe, 6605 Northwest Road, Ferndale (open Mon-Sat 9a-6p)
Half Acre Farm U-pick, 6211 Northwest Rd., Ferndale (see website for hours and availability)
Roadside egg stand, Lummi Island
Community Food Co-operative, Westerly and Cordata, Bellingham
Terra Organica, Flora and Cornwall, Bellingham