Cloak and Dagger Berbere Meatballs
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 5-6 medium to large onions both red and yellow
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons Berbere spice (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 roasted or sautéed garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut each onion only halfway vertically from end-to-end with a sharp knife. Do not cut across the grain.
  3. Add the onions and boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While onions are boiling, add all meat ingredients in a large bowl and knead with your hands until incorporated.
  5. Pinch a small piece off and quickly sauté for taste of spices and salt.
  6. Adjust as needed.
  7. When onions are done, bring to another large bowl under cold running water.
  8. Use scissors to cut off the petal-end of the onion and a sharp knife to cut the tough core, or trunk off just enough to extract onion leaves.
  9. Gently pass your fingers under each layer of onion and pull apart without tearing too much down the onion pieces.
  10. Reserve in another bowl or plate.
  11. Continue to the core where the leaves are too small. (The red onions may have a tough part on top of each larger petal. These will be very red. Cut as needed.)
  12. Take each petal and place in the palm of your hand vertically.
  13. Place a dollop of the meat mixture (using the size of the onion as a guide) at the end of the petal closest to you and roll it up. The onion petal may double-up over the meat but that is okay.
  14. Gently squeeze the onion closed in a tulip-bulb shape and place on a parchment-lined tray.
  15. Continue until all the petals are filled.
  16. Drizzle all the petals with extra virgin olive oil and place into the oven for 10 minutes.
  17. Check the meat to see if each petal is just cooked.
  18. There should be a lot of red juice on the tray. If these are par-cooked to your liking, pull tray from the oven to cool.
  19. When cool, place the stuffed onions in the refrigerator until use.
  20. Place 1 cup of proprietary chunky marinara in a heat-proof oval ramekin dish.
  21. Sprinkle 4 ounces of Parmigiano Reggiano and 4 ounces of aged mozzarella on the marinara.
  22. Place 5 of the stuffed (and uncooked) onion petals in the dish topped with 4 more ounces of mozzarella.
  23. Bake in a 450 F oven for 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bulbs are cooked through.
  24. Garnish with a rope of extra virgin olive oil, scallion, cilantro and (optional) a pinch of the berbere spice powder.
Recipe by Pizza Today at