Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sample recipe from The Cooking of the Middle-East: Dolmates Yemistes me Rizi (baked tomatoes stuffed with rice)

This looks like a great starter:

1/2 pint (285 ml) water
3.5 oz. (100g) uncooked rice (long or medium grain)
6 firm ripe tomatoes, each about 3 inches (7,5 cm) in diameter
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 tbs olive oil
2 oz. (55 g) finely chopped onions
3 x 2 1/4 oz. (ca. 65 g) cans tomato purée (6.75 oz. or 190 g or 9 tbs)
6 tbs finely chopped parsley, preferably flat-leaf
5 tbs finely cut fresh mint or 2 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp oregano, crumbled (how much is that in fresh?)
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3/8 pint (about 210 ml) to the boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the rice, stir a couple of times and cook the rice for about 8 minutes, or until softened but still firm (i.e. not fully quite cooked). Drain and set aside.

Cut a 1/4 inch (1/5 cm) slices off the stem end of the tomatoes and set aside. Hollow out the tomatoes, remove the inner pulp and discard the seeds. Chop the pulp and set aside. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 1 scant tsp of salt and drain them, upside down, on kitchen paper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). while it is heating, make the stuffing: heat the oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat and cook the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Add the rice, tomato pulp, 6 tbs of the tomato purée, the parsley, mint, garlic, oregano, the remaining salt and a few grindings of pepper. Stir fry until the mixture is almost dry (the mixture holds its shape almost solidly in the spoon).

Arrange the tomatoes, hollow side up, in a baking dish. Fill with the stuffing, packing it in firmly and put the reserved slices on top. Mix together the remaining 3 tbs of tomato purée and 3 tbs of water and pour around the tomatoes. Bake uncovered in the of the oven for 20 minutes, basting once or twice. Cool and serve directly from the baking dish.

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