1 karen mintzias
12 firm, ripe tomatoes
1 granulated sugar
3 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 medium onion; finely chopped
2 garlic cloves; chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 lb lean lamb or veal, ground
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoon raw long-grain white rice
1 tomato juice (if necessary)
1 freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs fresh mint or basil
1 pinch grated nutmeg
Wash the tomatoes, then turn each stem-side down, and with a sharp knife carefully cut the end now up to make an opening or "cap" being careful not to detach the cap entirely. With a small spoon, carefully, without breaking the outer skin of the tomatoes, scoop the pulp into a bowl. Place the tomato shells in a baking-serving dish large enough to support them touching. Sprinkle the inside of the shells with salt and sugar.
Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the onions. Cook over moderate heat until soft and transparent, then add the garlic and parsley, and blend. Add the meat, mashing with a fork, then add the wine and water, cover, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the rice and tomato pulp and stir. (Tomato juice may be added if necessary, since the mixture should provide enough liquid for the rice to absorb.) Cover the skillet and simmer about 7 minutes, then add salt, pepper, mint or basil, and nutmeg. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat, and fill the tomatoes up about two-thirds of the way with the stuffing and liquid. Cover with tomato caps, brush with oil. Bake in a moderate oven (350 F) until the rice is tender (approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour), basting inside the tomatoes with liquid released by them. Serve warm.
Note: For Tomatoes stuffed with Rice, use 1 1/4 cups raw long-grain white rice instead of the meat and rice in the above recipe, eliminate the wine, and include with the other seasonings a few tablespoons each of black raisins and 2 tablespoons pine nuts, if desired. Rice in baked stuffed dishes takes much longer to cook then over a burner. Stuffed green peppers, also popular in Greece, can be made the same way with an entirely different flavor.
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