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.
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 🙂
- 8 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, rice 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 5 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 eight large tomatoes.
ALL of your recipes look amazing… Next week is going to be greek vegan week in our house, can’t wait to try these and many other delicious recipes you have posted. Thanks so much for sharing and please keep posting 🙂 x
I have an allergy to pine nuts, any other suggestions?
hmmmmmm…. I do remember having this with pistachios that were chopped into pretty small pieces and they were quite nice. Not sure how you would adjust for salt as pistachios are sometimes hard to find unsalted. And, of course, slivered almonds are often added to rice pilaf so think those would work well too. Think I’m leaning towards the almonds myself 🙂 let me know which you try and how you liked them! Kiki
Do you think this could be made using cherry tomatoes – as hoes d’oeuvres? And if so, what might the baking time be?
Oh I love that idea Susan! Well, I’d probably start at 10-15 minutes. You need to check for the skin to become slightly wrinkled and that the tops especially are pretty crinkled looking. The tomato meat should be soft enough that it is easily pierced with a fork. Test at 10-15 minutes, then every 5 minutes after that. Even if they become just slightly blackened on top, that’s still fine and pretty tasty – I like to char my stuffed peppers that way. Please do let me know how they turn out! Kiki 🙂
This is a bit delayed but cherry tomatoes are so small. Maybe try the Campari (??) tomatoes which are bigger than cherry but usually smaller than regular tomatoes.
My mom used to use golden raisins instead of currants. O do not believe you can achieve the wonderful taste of stuffed tomatoes when using cherry tomatoes. There are a lot of ingredients going into them (larger tomatoes) to imitate the real taste.
This sounds delicious and I will be making them this week, but I’m concerned about the mint. Does the dish end up tasting minty or does it just integrate into the rest of the flavors? 🙂
the mint is wonderful, it brightens everything up a notch 🙂
Your recipe was easy to follow and the Yemista were delicious. I added some potatoes to the pan as an accompaniment. Thanks for sharing.
Is there another way to stuff these with out the dried fruit and nuts or meat?
you can just leave them out if you prefer – still delicious 🙂
I made this last night and it was so good. So good. So good. So glad I had left overs. I found the filling tasty, but just okay before I filled the tomatoes – thought it needed some lemon squeezed over to eat on its own. But the finished dish once stuffed in the tomatoes and baked was absolutely beautiful. Reduced the amount of oil to about 1/4 cup just because, and only had time to bake for about 1 hour, but followed the recipe otherwise – oh, and my rice needed about 25 minutes to cook and absorb the liquid – I imagine it depends on the type of rice you use…
Thanks so much for this recipe – it will now be part of my regular dinners and lunches. I ate it with a little sauce made of tahini, water, lemon and garlic for dinner, and leftovers with a bit of feta cheese on the side for lunch.
Yum yum yum yum yum.
They sound amazing, but I’m always confused with the baking part. Do you cover the baking dish or bake them in an uncovered pan?
no, do not cover the pan. cover each tomato with it’s tomato cap 🙂
I’m coming to this party a bit late but thought I would make a comment anyway. After living in Athens three years I fell in love with Greece and, of course, the food. I often makes stuffed tomatoes (or peppers, or even those wonderful little globe squash). I’m a lazy cook so I don’t sauté anything in advance. I just finely chop onion, carrots, any other veggies I have in the fridge. I also add the tomato pulp, lots of oregano or dill and rosemary (a little turmeric for extra health kick) And good EVOO! Add tofu or cashew cheese and salt & pepper. Mix together. I place the tomatoes in a pan – then cube carrots and potatoes and fill the pan around the tomatoes to hold them in place as well as add additional veggies. Drizzle all with EVOO. Yum! Κάλι όρεξη
I’m making these tonight, and eating the leftover stuffing while I wait! Yum yum yum. This will be a great recipe to take to a potluck!