Stuffed tomatoes are another in the delicious line of traditional Greek stuffed vegetables, or gemistes. This recipe also features the very Greek use of sweet, dried fruits in savory dishes.
Currants, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs and fluffy rice fill these tomatoes to the brim with so many wonderful flavors – they’re the most perfect meal imaginable! And once you see how simple stuffed tomatoes are to make, they’ll be regulars in your dinner rotation.
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Try to find large meaty tomatoes all of similar size and shape. This will help to ensure even cooking and lends to a lovely looking platter on your table! Slice even lids approx the same size for all your tomatoes and use a thin edged spoon to scoop out tomato insides. Remember to reserve a cup of the insides to mash and add to the filling.
And take the time to find currants and pine nuts. Pine nuts are available most of the year in large groceries but currants may require a little more searching. I stock up when I find them in my local market and keep them sealed in a freezer bag. Dried currants last for up to a year or longer this way and freezing is a simple way to keep them on hand year round.
The crunch of the nuts and sweetness of the currants turn this dish from side to main course. The textures and flavors are such a fantastic combination of authentic Greek cooking, stuffed tomatoes really are an exceptional representation of authentic Greek food.
You can make filling ahead up to 5 days, covered, in the refrigerator. Remember to bring filling to room temperature before filling.
Just FYI – this filling is also absolutely amazing all on its own
- 6 large tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup (uncooked) rice
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup currants
- 1⁄4 cup pine nuts
- 1⁄4 cup fresh mint
- 1⁄4 cup fresh dill
- 2 cups water
- 11⁄2 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 cup of tomato insides, mashed
- 3⁄4 cup warm water (in addition to 2 cups above)
Slice off top of each tomato to make small lids.
Scoop out insides of tomatoes and save 1 cup. Mash tomato insides well and set aside.
Toast pine nuts in pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until very lightly brown. Finely chop and combine fresh herbs. Set aside.
Saute onions until soft then stir in rice and cook on low for 5 minutes. Add pine nuts, currants, herbs, tomato insides and 2 cups water. Bring to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Allow filling to cool for approx 10 minutes before filling tomatoes. You can make filling up to 3 days ahead of time and keep covered in refrigerator until ready to fill/bake. Remember to bring to room temperature before using.
When ready to bake, fit tomatoes into a pan which holds them snuggly and fill each tomato to the top with rice filling. Cover filled tomatoes with lids and brush tops and sides with olive oil. Add 3⁄4 cup warm water to the bottom of the pan in between stuffed tomatoes and bake for 1 1⁄2 hours in 375° oven.
*a 9” round cake pan works well for six large tomatoes.