Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes with Fennel

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.

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Aglaia Kremezi writes about food in Greek, European, and American magazines, publishes books about Mediterranean cooking in the U.S. and Greece, and teaches cooking classes. More

Aglaia Kremezi has changed her life and her profession many times over. She currently writes about food in Greek, European and American magazines, publishes books about Greek and Mediterranean cooking in the US and in Greece, and teaches cooking to small groups of travelers who visit Kea. Before that she was a journalist and editor, writing about everything, except politics. She has been the editor in chief and the creator of news, women's, and life-style magazines, her last disastrous venture being a "TV guide for thinking people," a contradiction in terms, at least in her country. She studied art, graphic design, and photography at the Polytechnic of Central London. For five years she taught photography to graphic designers while freelancing as a news and fashion photographer for Athenian magazines and newspapers. Editors liked her extended captions more than the pieces the journalists submitted for the events she took pictures for, so she was encouraged to do her own stories, gradually becoming a full time journalist and editor. You can visit her website at

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