If there were awards, like Oscars or Golden Globes, given to vegetables, onions would most certainly receive numerous nominations for supporting roles. Very rarely do they get to be the star and win the top prize. Even when they are the featured ingredient (onion rings, french onion soup), they still usually are an accompaniment to a main dish.
But this recipe elevates the bulb to star status. It features the sweet and tangy workhorse as the main course and predominant flavor. The time it takes to cook the bulgur depends on which grade you use: quick-cooking (Grade 1) will take less time than Grade 4.
Serve with a salad and good crunchy bread.
Make Ahead: The onions and bulgur mixture can be prepped up to the point of final baking; cover and refrigerate a day in advance.
- 1 medium (about 2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 4 large (unpeeled) sweet onions, each about 4 inches across
- 3 1/3 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 4 ounces pork breakfast sausage, such as Jimmy Dean Breakfast patties, broken into small pieces
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (see headnote)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a large rimmed baking sheet at hand, preferably lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner, and a shallow baking pan large enough to hold the 4 onions.
Scatter the squash cubes on the sheet. Drizzle them with the 2 tablespoons of the oil and the honey, then sprinkle them with the red pepper, dried sage and salt; toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing them once or twice, until the squash is tender but not mushy. Let cool on the sheet while you prepare the onions; leave the oven on at 400 degrees.
Cut and discard a 1/2-inch-thick slice from the top of each onion. Trim just enough from the bottom of each onion so they can sit level. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the onions.
Stand the onions on a cutting board. Use a melon baller to scoop out most of the insides of each onion, transferring the inside bits to a medium bowl.
Place the onions in the shallow baking pan, then pour 1/3 cup of the beef broth around them. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for for 25 to 30 minutes. The onions should be tender, but still firm enough to stuff and cook longer without falling apart. Transfer to the stovetop (off the heat) and keep covered.
Coarsely chop about 1 1/2 cups of the onion insides, reserving any remaining onions for another use.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender, then add the garlic and sausage; cook about 4 minutes, stirring often and using a wooden spoon to break up clumps, until the sausage is no longer pink.
Add the bulgur, stir to coat evenly and cook for a minute or two. Add the remaining 3 cups of beef broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 to 30 minutes (depending on the grade of bulgur used) until tender.
Add the cooked squash to the saute pan, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover the roasted onions; stuff each one with about 1/2 cup of the bulgur mixture. Place the remaining mixture around each onion in the baking pan. Drizzle the onions with oil, re-cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes.
From Cynthia A. Brown, assistant director at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.
Tested by Cynthia A. Brown.
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