Still on the vine, you could smell their intense green clove-like aroma from about 30 feet away. I had to have them. At all costs. This turned out to be the debt of a small sovereign nation) All my frugal intentions went out the window.
So using leftovers, or starting from scratch with uncooked rice, this was a perfect summer dish, whether cold as mezze or to accompany a Sunday roast.
Skill level: Easy
8 large ripe tomatoes
1 x small onion, finely chopped
1 x garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of allspice
1 tbsp dried sour cherries, roughly chopped (or currants)
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
a pinch of caster sugar
a splash of sherry vinegar
vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped
- If you're using uncooked rice, you will need to cook it. I'm not going to go into details as I am sure you have a favourite method. All I would say is cook them in vegetable (or chicken) stock to inject some extra flavour. Set aside to cool or use leftover cooked rice.
- Slice a small lid off the top of each tomato, wide enough to get a teaspoon in. With a sharp knife or teaspoon, gouge out the tomato pulp and seeds, but making sure that the tomato is intact.
- Turn the tomatoes upside down on a wooden chopping board to drain.
- Save the pulp and any of the tomato juices. I sieve the pulp and press down on the seeds, keeping any of the juice. The seeds do release extra tomato flavour.
- Gently fry the onion in the olive oil until soft but not browned (about 10 minutes).
- Add the crushed garlic and stir. Cook for another minute or two.
- Add the rice, reserved tomato juice, spices, sour cherries (or currants), pine nuts and the rice. Stir well to ensure that everything is well coated with spice.
- Add a little tomato puree for extra tomato flavour, a splash of sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar. If more liquid is required add a little vegetable stock or water (about a tablespoon or so), you probably won't need much.
- Ensure that all of the rice is coated in the cooked spices.
- Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Set aside to cool and add a tablespoon of chopped parsley.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas Mark 4.
- Pack each of the tomatoes with the rice stuffing and perch each of the tomato lids on top.
- Slop some water in a roasting tin or baking dish (about 1cm in depth). Place the tomatoes in the tin and drizzle over a shimmer of olive oil.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are softened and are beginning to collapse.
- They are delicious served hot or cold.