Onion Dolma (Stuffed Onion With Ground Beef)

onion dolma - stuffed onion ground beef

The island of Lesvos has been a meeting point for many civilizations and traditions. In the passing of the centuries, from that combination, miracles have been made, small and big ones. The historical fate of the island was meaning for its people to live difficult times with dramatic occurrences but long periods of calm and peace as well. The historical conjunctions still challenge the people of Lesvos as even today they are faced with often being the first point of relief for refugees fleeing desperate conditions in the Middle East and Africa. The residents of the island have seen and still see history being written in front of their eyes, on their soil. These soils, that in some parts are so fertile that you can grow everything you plant, and in some other parts are totally infertile where nothing much of value can be grown.

Gastronomy is a field that reflects this historical and cultural heritance of the island. The co-existence with the Ottomans for 500 years and the daily meeting with the Greeks of Minor Asia that expanded with a large immigration influx in 1922 were critical facts for the formation of food culture on the island.

This recipe definitely has some oriental origins and more specifically the coast of Minor Asia where they loved to stuff vegetables with ground meat or rice or the combination of the two. It’s a delicious and pretty rare dish that everyone will absolutely love.

Serves 6

Ingredients we will need:

  • 6-8 onions, elongated
  • 2 onions extra finely chopped (for the filling)
  • 500 gr ground beef
  • 2-3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (for frying)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (to taste), chopped
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil (for topping)
  • 2 KirIan Bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs salt added to large pot of water
  • 1 fresh ground pepper


  • We peel off the onions and carve them lengthwise so that the cut reaches the middle of the onions.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt
  • Add the onions to the boiling salted water for 10-15 minutes
  • We remove and put them in a colander to cool down and drain the excess water from them
  • After they cool down we strip them one by one in single layers.
  • We heat the olive oil in a frying pan and we saute the finely chopped onion along with the ground beef and garlic. When they’re ready we add the chopped tomatoes, our bay leaves, salt and pepper and stir well
  • When the ground beef absorbs all its juices, we add the wine and wait for few seconds for the alcohol to evaporate.
  • We remove the pan from the stove and allow the ground beef to cool down. When it’s cold enough we stuff with the mixture the single layers of onion one by one. The mixture should be as much that the ends of the onion unite.
  • We place them in a wide round pyrex really close to each other so they fit tightly together
  • We top with the rest of olive oil and preheat the oven in 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • We bake for about 30-40 minutes until the onion caramelizes.

    We serve with fried potatoes or rice.

    Kali oreksi!!