Stuffed Onions (Kelemia)

Stuffed Onions (Kelemia)

There is almost no savory Greek dish, from starters to main courses, that don’t contain onions. One of the most basic ingredients in the Greek Diet, onions and all their relatives (leeks, scallions, chives, ramps, and shallots among them) are also among the healthiest natural foods we can eat. 

When you cut or chop an onion or leek, you release their cancer-fighting compounds.

A major phytochemical compound in onions and their cousins is allicin, which helps fight cholesterol, and has known antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. 

Onions are also a great source of chromium, which helps our tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels. 

Vitamin D and manganese are found in abundance in the humble onion, too. 

In Greek cuisine, onions are the basis of a whole group of stews called yiahni (with tomato sauce). They are stuffed in their own right. They are the crowning pungent ingredient in a Greek salad and in many other salads. They are the stuff of savory pies. They are also cooked slowly until caramelized and used as a topping for pasta, with yogurt or with fresh herbs, a recipe from Ikaria. 

Find more Ikaria longevity tips in my latest book, IKARIA: LESSONS ON FOOD, LIFE & LONGEVITY FROM THE GREEK ISLAND WHERE PEOPLE FORGET TO DIE (Rodale). 

The easiest way to peel an onion is to chop it half lengthwise and to peel off the skin from both halves with a knife. 

Here are two tricks for not tearing up when you cut an onion:

– Freeze the onion for 15 minutes before cutting, or

– Peel the onion whole and place it in a bowl of cold water. This will also make the onion milder tasting.