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Davide Marzullo cookbook

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

Stuffed Onion with Cocoa Crumble and Parmigiano-Reggiano Mousse

Chef Davide Marzullo won the S.Pellegrino Social Responsibility Award for the Italy and South East Europe Region. 

18 January, 2021
Average: 3 (11 votes)

serves for


total time

1 HR 30 MIN


Yellow onion
2, small
200 g
Genovese onions
Yellow onion
to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
to taste
30 g
Parmesan foam
200 g
Parmigiano cheese
320 g
5 g
to taste
For toasted hazelnuts
100 g
Cocoa crumble
All purpose flour
100 g
Caster sugar
100 g
100 g
Bitter cocoa powder
50 g

Italian chef Davide Marzullo shares his vegetarian dish of onion stuffed with a Genovese sauce (a rich, onion-based pasta sauce) topped with bitter cocoa crumble and a Parmigiano-Reggiano mousse. The winning young chef recommends baking this simple and satisfying dish during the colder months of the year when it serves as a crowd-pleasing vegetarian appetiser.

Marzullo decided to make the humble onion the star of the dish, as it's an ingredient which he says is commonly found in the background of Italian recipes, yet rarely in the foreground. “I wanted to get involved and try to put it in the front row,” he says.

The multilayered onion also reminds him of his chef uncle who used to serve an onion sauce at his small restaurant back home. He now appreciates the nuances of the dish as a young adult, after reluctantly being served it as a child.

Marzullo also draws on a childhood fondness for laurel, other another native ingredient found in his homeland of Italy, which he smokes for the final garnish. “The scent of the laurel that releases the burnt leaves reminds me when I was little, my dad, who burned the laurel branches for the fireplace.”

Check out Marzullo's recipe in the simple step-by-step guide below:

Step 01

onion Davide Marzullo

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

For the Onion:

Preheat the oven to 180°. In the meantime, place 200 grams of coarse salt on a baking sheet and place the two onions on top. Cook everything in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Once the onions are cooked, cut the tops off and scoop out the insides so as to create an empty shell that will form our dish.

Step 02

cooking the onion

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

For the Genovese Sauce

Remove the first 4 layers of the onions and cut them into thin julienne strips. Then, put oil, butter and the chopped onions in a saucepan.

Step 03

onion cooked Davide Marzullo

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

Once the onions have released all their water, add the salt and the bay leaf, and cover the saucepan with plastic wrap for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.

Step 04

onion Davide Marzullo

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

After 10 minutes, remove the film, lower the heat and cook the onion very gently for about another 45 minutes.

The onion will take on an amber colour and a very sweet taste.

Step 05

Parmesan mousse

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

For the Parmigiano-Reggiano Mousse:

Bring the cream to the boil, sprinkle in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well with a whisk.

Once mixed, add the gelatine previously soaked in cold water.

Step 06

Parmesan mousse in a glass

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

Place the Parmigiano-Reggiano mousse in an airtight container and let it rest for 40 minutes in the fridge.

Step 07


Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

For the Toasted Hazelnuts:

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 175° for 11 minutes. Once cold, cut them in half.

Step 08

Chocolate crumble

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

For the Bitter Cacao Crumble:

Mix all the ingredients together and cook at 172° for 25 minutes. Blend everything with the help of a food processor.

Step 09

bay leaf and burnt onion skin

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo


To decorate, burn a few bay leaves and a few pieces of onion peel directly over an open flame.

Step 10


Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

Line a plate with some coarse salt (it serves to support the onion), place the empty onion on top, decorate with the bay leaves and onion skins, then fill the onion with the Genovese sauce and add the bitter cocoa crumble.

Step 11

adding hazelnuts

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

Place a few pieces of toasted hazelnuts, form a quenelle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano mousse with the help of a hot spoon, add field herbs and then place the onion cap on top.

Step 12

Final dish Davide Marzullo

Courtesy of Chef Davide Marzullo

The final dish. 

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