Tradition-minded Greek cooks stuff all sorts of vegetables, like eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions. For the recipe here, look for tomatoes that aren’t overly ripe, or they will fall apart while baking.
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Six 8-ounce tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup water
2/3 cup mixed chopped parsley, mint and dill
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and reserve. Scrape out the pulp, chop it and transfer to a bowl. Season the tomato shells with salt and stand them in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the lamb and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato pulp, wine and tomato paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Using a slotted spoon, fill the tomatoes with the rice stuffing, leaving most of the liquid in the skillet; pour the liquid around the tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and replace the tops. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the rice is cooked. Uncover the tomatoes and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
The baked tomatoes can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Reheat before serving.
The Peloponnese's Nemea region is known for cherry-flavored red wines made from the Agiorgitiko grape. Modest tannins make them good with light meat dishes, like these lamb-stuffed tomatoes.
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