Roasted Onions Stuffed with Ground Lamb and Apricots

A dish filled with roasted onions stuffed with ground lamb and apricots.

This Moroccan-inspired recipe is one of those dishes where less is more: a sweet onion stuffed with just cinnamon- and cumin-scented ground lamb and plump apricots. While you may be tempted to put your whole spice cabinet in the lamb filling, the simple duo of cinnamon and cumin does the trick. The fruit plays off the rich gaminess of the lamb and the spices add a subtle background flavor to tie it all together.

This stuffed onion is perfect for a weeknight dinner with a green salad and steamed basmati rice, or elegant enough to make as a starter for a dinner party. The best part is that you can do this all ahead of time and just pop the stuffed onions in the oven before dinner.–Michael Schwartz

LC Less is More Note

Schwartz is right. Less IS more when it comes to this Moroccany oniony lamby situation, not just in terms of its spices but its sidekicks, too. Those times when you find yourself in a particularly lazy cooking mood or an exceptionally harried situation, we see the need for nothing else on the plate, aside from maybe some fragrant rice–takeout rice, if you must.

Roasted Sweet Onions

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 35 M
  • Serves 4
4/5 - 1 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the stock, apricots, and lemon zest. Gently simmer until the apricots are plump and the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, roughly 10 minutes.

Without peeling the onions, cut about 1 inch off the tops and just
enough off the bottoms that each onion stands upright. Reserve the onion tops and discard the bottoms. Remove all but the outer two layers of each 
onion by scooping out the centers with a spoon or melon baller, reserving the insides. Set the onion shells in a baking dish along with the tops. Finely chop the insides.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in almost all of the chopped onions, reserving some for another use, and cook until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the lamb, cinnamon, and cumin and season with the salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, continually stirring with a wooden spoon, until the lamb is crumbly, 7 to 8 minutes. Do not drain the rendered fat; it’s needed to keep the onions moist and to impart a luscious unctuousness to the overall dish. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the apricot mixture and its liquid, hot sauce to taste, and the parsley and mint. Let cool slightly. (The lamb filling can easily be prepared a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)

Spoon some of the lamb mixture into each of the hollowed-out onions, pressing down with your hands and mounding it over the onions. Sprinkle the 
bread crumbs over the onions and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bread crumbs are brown, about 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I usually can’t be bothered with stuffing food, but for this recipe, I’ll make an exception. I’ve had good lamb and bad lamb, so I knew I was taking my chances trying to cook it, but with only half a pound, it couldn’t be that much of a waste if I didn’t like it. I didn’t need to worry — the dish worked out well, and the lamb had a great flavor, complemented by the flavors of the rest of the ingredients. When I do the dish again, I’ll cut back on the salt by about half, and be conservative with the butter, cutting the final butter by about half as well. The recipe says not to drain the fat, but the dish really didn’t need the extra fat to keep it moist. This dish would complement a Middle Eastern meze very well, but worked well with just veggies on the side. Most Middle Eastern food is served at room temperature, and I do recommend letting the dish cool a good bit, as the cinnamon tended to overpower the dish when served straight from the oven.

I thought the cumin and cinnamon was fantastic with the lamb, and the subtle addition of the mint and parsley really freshened the dish. My only tweak would be in the proportions. There was a LOT of onion here. Stuffing the onions made a nice presentation, but when sliced up to eat it was overwhelming. Maybe smaller onions and more stuffing? After all, 1/2 pound of meat isn’t a lot for four servings. Either way, the flavor profiles definitely make this a dish to hang on to!

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  1. Local market had ground lamb (not always available) so made for dinner last evening. Couldn’t find small onions so used the smallest of the big ones – very interesting taste. Husband thought it was very sweet, but liked the flavor. As others have said, onions needed more oven time to become soft. Didn’t add the parsley as it was pouring outside, so skipped the jaunt to the garden – don’t think it made much of a difference. And I agree that there was way too much scooped out onion to use in the stuffing, but I just popped it into a ziploc bag for another use (also saved the tops). I served this with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. The drippings in the pan were wonderful over the potatoes. I might try to find some really small mini onions and make as appetizers – would be nice at holiday time and something different.

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