January 20, 2016
A Mediterranean delight. This is a vegetarian version, which is great for when you’re not in the mood of eating meat. However, you can always add a 1/2 pound of ground beef (which is browned).
4 medium tomatoes hollowed out
4 zucchinis, 8 inches long, hollowed out
4 small eggplants, 5 – 6 inches long, trimmed of their leaves and slit lengthwise
6 medium potatoes, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges
1/2 tsp of oregano, salt, pepper, and chicken base
1 cup tomato sauce
water to fill roasting pan halfway
Note: You can always vary the amount and type of vegetables. And, you can also substitute green or red bell peppers, and large onions instead of the tomatoes and zucchinis. However, the most important ingredient to measure is the rice. In general, use 1 heaping teaspoon per hollowed out the vegetable. Keep in mind the rice will triple in volume by the time stuffing has cooked. It’s better to have more stuffing, which you can simply place in a corner of the pan, rather than having less.
How to Prepare the Vegetables:
Wash, remove core and slice off a 1-inch circle from the tomato’s bottom; reserve top. Scoop out the flesh using a narrow spoon; reserve. Place hollowed out tomatoes in an ungreased roasting pan. Rinse tomato flesh free of seeds and roughly chop remaining flesh; set aside. Peel, wash and cut potatoes into wedges; set aside.
Wash and trim off ends. From either end, slice a 1/4 inch round; set slice aside, since it will be used to close the tube. Scoop out the flesh using a narrow spoon; reserve about 1/3 of it. Place tubes in a pan.
In a large nonstick pot, sauté eggplants using 1 tablespoon of oil (from the 1/2 cup oil), over medium heat, for about 3 – 5 minutes, turning over eggplants occasionally. Place eggplants in the pan.
Green or Red Bell Peppers:
Prepare in the same manner as with the tomatoes, but sauté in 2 tablespoons oil, over medium heat for 5 minutes to soften slightly.
Remove skins and using a sharp melon baller, remove inside, leaving a 1/2 inch thick shell.
How to Make the Stuffing:
In a large nonstick pot, sauté the onion and garlic, using 1 tablespoon of oil (from the 1/2 cup oil), over medium heat, for about 3 – 5 minutes. Add in the tomato and zucchini flesh, and the parsley and dill, and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes.
Then add in the rice, stirring everything around for a few seconds. Add in the tomato sauce and water. Then add in your flavourings: cinnamon, clove, oregano, chicken base, sage and pepper. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 – 7 minutes to reduce the sauce. Remove from heat and add in currants and/or choice of additional ingredients.
At this point, place oven racks on the lowest level and preheat oven to 450’F.
Stuffing the Vegetables and Assembling the Pan:
For eggplants: widen slits and stuff with a few tablespoons of stuffing. For tomatoes, zucchinis and other hollowed out vegetables, spoon stuffing leaving 1/2 inch from opening; leave enough room for the stuffing to expand, otherwise the vegetable will rupture. Then cover vegetables with their original tops, or ends. Using the same pot as a mixing bowl, which has the flavour of the stuffing, add in the prepared potatoes and their seasonings, tossing to coat wedges well. Transfer potatoes to roasting pan. To the pot, add in the 1cup tomato sauce and 1 cup of water, giving it a good whirl. Pour sauce over vegetables. Add in remaining water to cover potatoes halfway up and drizzle remaining oil over vegetables.
Bake for 1 hour and then test rice for doneness. Halfway through its baking time, check pan to see that it’s not baking dry, if so, then add in about 1 cup of water. When it has finished baking, there should be about 1/4 cup of water and about 1/2 cup of tomato flavoured oil in a pan.
Image author rusvaplauke
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