I’ve been asked how to prepare the onions and tomatoes for dolma, so when I made it recently my niece was kind enough to take some photos. You’re going to need one sharp knife and one corer. Here are some instructions. Onions first.
Get large Spanish onions so you get the most stuffable parts. Begin by cutting the top and bottom off of the onion as shown.
Next, cut a slice from the top to the bottom of the onion from one edge to the center of the onion. If you think of it as a circle, you’re going to cut a radius into it.
Now pick up the onion and gently pry apart the first few layers. This is the part that takes some practice. You want to open the layers without cracking them in half. I usually grab about six layers and pry them gently apart with my fingers, then use my thumb to push the center out through the widest opening in the onion as shown.
At this point, I find it easier to begin peeling the inner layers out of the center of the outer rim one at a time. I find I can curl one end in, making it release from the rest of the rim, then push it out the opening as I did the core.
Continue peeling until you have all the layers separated and discard the tough outer layers. If you want even smaller onions to fill, you can pry apart layers in the core, but eventually they can’t help but break. At that point, take what’s left of the core, cut it into large chunks and toss them in the bowl of a food processor. Remember, you’re going to puree the onion centers and tomato innards to moisten the meat filling.
Now to the tomatoes. You’ll start by cutting across the top of the tomato ALMOST all the way across, leaving about a half inch uncut so the lid stays attached to the base as shown.
Now take your corer and work your way around the edges of the tomato flesh, cutting out only the core and seeds.
When you’re done, you’ll have a hollowed out tomato and a leftover core and some juice and seeds.
Put the leftover core, juice and seeds into the food processor bowl with the leftover onion centers. Then puree the tomato and onion centers into a slightly chunky mixture you will add to the meat, rice and spices you use to stuff the dolma.
There you go! Now you have the veggies to stuff and the puree to mix into the stuffing.