These Mexican stuffed onions are filled with couscous, chicken, salsa, cilantro and lots of cheese making them a fun way to do dinner!
Ulysses is adamant about flying JetBlue when we go to Florida each year. I, however, am all about whichever airline has the cheapest fair.
To him, the ability to watch TV the whole way down trumps any amount of savings I might be able to squeak out on Delta or any other airline. Every year, I fight hard for the cheaper fair and every year I lose the battle.
So a few weeks ago on our way down, I found myself watching 2.5 hours of Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network on repeat. Well, flipping between that and Love It or List It on HGTV (sometimes I really miss having cable solely for those two channels).
I’ve always liked Bobby Flay (there aren’t too many Food Network stars I can say that about) and after 5 shows of him kicking ass and taking names, I have to say, I’m even more impressed.
The man can cook pretty much anything and not only cook it, but beat people who have been making and perfecting it (whatever “it” may be) for sometimes 20+ years.
My favorite part of the show, however, isn’t even when Bobby’s cooking, it’s the first throw-down between the two contestants that are trying to win the opportunity to go up against him.
He picks 1 surprise ingredient and they have to create a dish that focuses on it in 20 minutes before the judges taste and choose a winner. The whole thing reminds me of Chopped and the hours upon hours I’d spend watching it when we actually had cable a few years ago.
Chopped is kind of like my worst nightmare and bucket list life item all in one. The idea of it both terrifies and excites me. If you could promise not to throw something like Durian or mashed potato candy (yeah, both those things have been used) at me and rather just a bunch of normal real food ingredients, I’d be all over it.
I hardly ever follow “recipes” when I cook anyway so the idea of making stuff up on the spot is both fun and familiar. I just wouldn’t want to come face to face with some obscure ingredient I’ve never heard of that tastes horrific and then freeze with panic.
So when I was asked to participate in a Chopped at Home challenge using a 4-Cheese Mexican blend, boneless chicken tenders, couscous and salsa I was psyched.
No weird ingredients, but lots of room for creativity. While chicken, couscous, salsa and cheese are pretty normal foods, combining them in a dish actually made me think long and hard.
In the end, I went with a Mexican theme to go with the Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Asadero and Queso Quesadilla in the cheese blend.
The filling in these Mexican stuffed onions is cheesy and spicy with a fresh bite from the cilantro.
While you could essentially stuff it in anything (peppers, zucchini and portobello mushrooms would all be great alternatives), I’m kind of biased to the purple/red onions.
They’re a Mexican staple but really it’s their gorgeous deep color contrasting with the orange and green that wins me over in this dish.
Pretty sure it’d win in the presentation category for that alone if I was actually competing. And the (very) competitive side of me kinda wishes I was.
More recipes like these Mexican stuffed onions:
- 8 large purple onions
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup dry plain couscous
- 3/4 pound chicken tenders (breast or boneless thigh will work too)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped (*optional for added heat)
- 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend + more for topping
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- In the mean time, cut a small piece off the bottoms of the onions so that they sit flat. Cut about 1/4-1/2 inch off the tops.
- Once boiling, add the onions to the water and boil for 12 minutes. Remove the onions from the water, set aside and let cool.
- Combine the water, 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the couscous, stir, cover and set aside, off of the heat for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Chop the chicken into small pieces and add to the bowl with the couscous.
- Carefully remove the centers of the onion with either a knife or sharp spoon so that just 3-4 outer rings of onion are left and you have a nice hollow center for stuffing.
- Chop some of the discarded onion centers so that you have 1/2 cup of chopped onions.
- Add the chopped onions to the skillet the chicken cooked in and saute with the jalapeno for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Transfer to the bowl with the couscous and chicken.
- Add the salsa, chipotle chili if using, cheese and cilantro to the bowl. Mix everything together and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish and place the onions in the dish.
- Fill each onion with the mixture. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the onions from the oven, uncover, top with additional cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until melted.
- Remove from oven, let cool slightly and serve.