Photo by Aglaia Kremezi
From The Foods of the Greek Islands (Houghton Mifflin)
Adapted from Kalliopi Delios, who, together with her husband and son, owns the Taverna Castro in Avgonyma, Chios. She uses plenty of wild fennel, along with fresh mint from her garden and dill, to prepare these fragrant stuffed tomatoes.
Domates Gemistes me Maratho
Makes 6 servings
• 12 medium ripe but firm tomatoes (not refrigerated) • 1 cup olive oil
• 3 cups chopped onions • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, preferably freshly ground or crushed in a mortar • 1 cup medium-grain rice, such as Arborio
• 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 medium potato, scrubbed, halved crosswise, and each half quartered
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cut off the top 1/2 inch of each tomato; set aside the tops. Using a grapefruit spoon, very carefully remove as much pulp as possible from each tomato, without piercing the skin. Chop the pulp. Measure out 2 1/2 cups; freeze the rest for use later, if desired.
In a large skillet, heat 2/3 cup of the oil and sauté the onions and fennel bulb over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the fennel seeds and rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the tomato pulp, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes more.
Stir in the parsley, dill, and mint, and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add the salt and plenty of pepper. Stuff the tomatoes with the rice mixture, leaving a little room for the stuffing to expand, and cover with the tomato tops.
Place the tomatoes in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish and arrange the potato pieces in the gaps between the tomatoes. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup tomato pulp over everything and drizzle the tomatoes with the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the rice is tender (lift the cover of a tomato and check). Turn off the oven and let stand in the oven for 10 minutes, then let cool to room temperature. Serve 1 or 2 tomatoes and a couple of potato pieces on each plate.