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Stuffed Tomatoes

This is a recipe is taken from The Good Table by Valentine Warner. 

INGREDIENTS 

Serves 6

100g short-grain rice

450ml cold water

½ teaspoon saffron threads

½ cinnamon stick

6 large beef tomatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 large white onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon caraway seeds

1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

75g Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf or curly-leaf parsley

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

50g pine nuts

25g sultanas

flaked sea salt and black pepper

 METHOD

Pour the rice into a saucepan and cover with the water. Drop the saffron and the cinnamon stick into the pan. Bring the rice up to a healthy simmer and cover. Cook for 15–20 minutes until the rice is tender. Drain the rice, remove the cinnamon stick, spread the rice on a large dinner plate and leave to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/Gas 6½.

While the rice cooks, cut a lid from the top of each tomato, preferably keeping the stalk attached, and reserve. With a teaspoon, scoop the little pockets of seeds out of the tomatoes into a sieve over a bowl and push down to get the juice from the seeds. Discard the seeds and the hard part of the core. Chop the flesh from the core and add to the juice. Pour the oil into a good-sized saucepan. Over a medium heat, fry the onion, cumin, caraway seeds and oregano until the onion is golden, adding the garlic for the last 2 minutes so as not to burn it. Pour in 150ml of the tomato pulp and simmer briskly to cook away any obvious watery element. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped olives, parsley and lemon zest.

Into a small frying pan, tip the pine nuts and dry-fry them over a medium heat, swirling them continuously so that they don’t burn. After about 5 minutes they should be a rich golden colour. Tip them into the onions and add the sultanas.

Turn the rice into the onion mix and stir everything together, adding a good grinding of black pepper and seasoning well with salt (a lot of food is under-seasoned). Stuff the tomatoes so that they look generous with the filling bursting out of the top a little. Place the lids on top. Line an oven dish with baking paper and place the tomatoes in two little rows within. Pass over with one final drizzle of oil and a little salt for the outside of the tomatoes.

Bake the tomatoes for 35–40 minutes. The skins should be brown and in certain places starting to blacken. The tomatoes should be totally soft, but not completely collapsed.

Photo credit:  ©Jonathan Lovekin and The Good Table published by Mitchell Beazley
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