Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers
- 6 - 12 servings
- 6 large firm, ripe tomatoes
- 6 large green bell peppers
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large onions finely chopped or grated *
- 5 – 6 scallions finely chopped
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 small cinnamon stick optional
- 1/3 cup dark or light seedless raisins
- 1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
- ¾ cup water or more if needed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
1. Wash the vegetables. Take a very sharp knife and slice off the top of each tomato and each pepper. Keep each vegetable and cap together.
2. With a teaspoon, gently scoop out the pulp of each tomato, being careful not to tear the outer skin. Leave a shell thick enough to hold stuffing (about ½ inch or 1.3 cm.). Remove seeds, chop, pulp, and place, with juices in a large bowl. Carefully remove the tops of the peppers, leaving the stems in tact; remove the peppers’ seeds with a spoon. If desired, using a paring knife, trim away the inner ribs, which can be tough when cooked.
3. In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and sauté the scallions and onions until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir while cooking. Add the rice and stir frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomato pulp, garlic, cinnamon stick, raisins, pine nuts, and water. Reduce heat, cover skillet, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until rice is softened but not cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. (The mixture should be moist.) Remove cinnamon stick; season stuffing with salt and pepper; toss in herbs.
4. Preheat oven to 350ο F / 176ο C. Stuff the vegetables with rice filling and crown with their own caps. Place in a baking pan. Add a little water to the pan (about ¼ cup), drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the vegetables and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until vegetables are soft and blistery and rice is cooked. Baste with pan juices during baking if necessary. Serve hot or cold.
To grate an onion, peel then grate the whole onion carefully along the coarsest side of an upright hand grater. The juice in the onions are valuable, too! They add extra sweetness to the finished dish.