I like stuffed veggies. This one, stuffed tomato (well yes, technically tomato is a fruit but it is a culinary vegetable, so..), was something I never tasted or at least didn’t remember tasting. Though, I remember my mother used to cook these alongside stuffed peppers. I guess I always preferred the peppers.
The rice used for stuffing is more or less the same with pepper version, which can be found here. The tomato version takes slightly longer to prepare because it takes a bit longer to hollow out tomatoes without ruining them.
When you are making another stuffed vegetable, like peppers, you don’t need to fully cook the rice. I normally just saute the rice a little with onions and other things and the rice is then fully cooked together with the vegetable it’s in.
However, as a tomato is a very delicate thing to cook, you can’t cook them altogether. Rice will take so much longer to cook and by then, the tomatoes will be too soft and will spread and not keep their forms. So you should cook the rice well before stuffing the tomatoes.
I like eating these cold. Besides, as tomatoes are fragile, reheating is not really a good option. I like to let them rest for a few hours and serve / eat afterwards. You can of course eat them right away, when they are freshly cooked. Enjoy them in any way you like!
(makes 12-14 tomatoes)
12-14 medium size, nicely round and firm tomatoes
2 + 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 medium size onions, diced
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp zante currants
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) white rice, washed and soaked in very hot water for 15 to 30 minutes
2.5 dl (or 1 cup) warm water**
1 tsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp salt (and a little more later while cooking tomatoes)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
more warm water while cooking the tomatoes
*You can find this in Turkish markets in Itäkeskus (its name in Turkish is “kus uzumu”). If you can’t find them, you can omit. Or, if you like, you can replace with raisins, though I never tried with raisins myself.
1. First cut the cap of each tomato and scoop out the inside, leaving enough flesh to keep the tomato in shape. Keep the caps of each tomato because you will use them later. Also, keep the juice and very small bits from the inside of tomatoes to add to the stuffing.
2. In a large and flat pan with high edges, put 2 tbsp olive oil and warm on medium high heat for about 15-20 seconds. Then add onions and pine nuts and saute for about 5 minutes, until onions get translucent.
3. Add tomato juice you kept and continue to cook by stirring frequently, for about 2 more minutes.
4. Add currants and stir a little.
5. Add drained rice and stir.
6. Add 2.5 dl (or 1 cup) warm water, stir a little more to smoothen it all and cover the lid of the pan (sorry, no photos with lid!!). Decrease the heat to medium and leave the lid of the pan ajar.
7. When the rice absorbs all the water and is fully cooked, put the lid away. Add sugar, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Stir it all well and cook for 1 more minute and then take away from the heat to cool down for about 10 minutes.
8. When the rice is cooled, start stuffing the tomatoes. You can put just a little more rice than needed so that the caps stay a little higher and you can see the rice a little even when the caps are on. Put the cap back on after each tomato is filled.
9. Put the tomatoes inside a large pot. Spread the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil on the tomatoes. Add warm water up to half of the tomatoes. Also, there is no photo of it, but I recommend to add salt on the tomatoes at this point as well. Put the pot on medium heat and stay there to observe. It shouldn’t take long the tomatoes to cook – your filling is already cooked so it’s only the tomato that should cook now. For me, it took just about 5-7 minutes to cook. If I left the tomatoes on heat longer, they would get too soft and not keep their shape. So I recommend you to stay there looking at your pot to check the tomatoes – when they are soft but still keeping their shape, you can take them away from the heat. Take them out of the pan (and the hot water) immediately so that they don’t continue cooking in the hot water. I prefer to let them cool completely for a few hours before serving / eating but you can of course eat them freshly cooked. Enjoy!