Stuffed tomatoes are called gemistà in Greek.
Red, ripe tomatoes with their natural sweetness can turn this humble dish into a wonderfully flavored summer meal. As a kid I remember we would cook this dish at home, mostly in August, when the tomatoes from our garden were ideally ripe.
Rice and finely grated vegetables together with herbs is the classic stuffing for gemistà. In some parts of Greece, raisins and pine nuts are used to give a festive touch to the dish.
Another version calls for minced meat in the stuffing, but it’s not nearly as popular.
Gemistà can describe not only tomatoes but also other stuffed summer vegetables such as aubergines, green peppers, and zucchinis.
8 medium sized ripe tomatoes
150gr round grain rice or rice for risotto
1 small zucchini grated
2 tbsp chopped parsley
5-6 mint leaves finely chopped
1 cup olive oil (200gr)
1 medium onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut length-wise into thick wedges.
Slice off the round top of each tomato and set aside. Hollow them out with an ice cream scoop or with a tea spoon, being careful to leave a wall thick enough to support the filling. Keep the tomato pulp for the filling. Arrange the hollowed tomatoes in a baking pan, one close to the other, without leaving much space between them. Set them aside.
In a sauce pan, over medium heat, add half of the olive oil and cook the onion, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the grated zucchini, tomato pulp, mint, parsley and finally the rice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 min. Season with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool for 10 min.
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Fill the hollowed tomatoes with the stuffing, leaving a little space for the rice to expand. Put the tops back on the tomatoes. Fill the gaps between the tomatoes with the potato chunks, add the water, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake for about one hour.
Serve preferably at room temperature.