This recipe is a staple of the summer season when tomatoes are abundant and at their peak. You can also use the same filling for peppers, zucchini, or any other vegetables that may be available.
The recipe below made enough filling for six large tomatoes and 3 medium zucchini. You can adjust it according to your needs. Feel free to add raisins, pine nuts, or slivered almonds if you like.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: 6 - 8 Servings
- 6 large tomatoes
- 3 medium zucchini
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in wedges
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 6 tbsp. uncooked rice
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 6 pats of butter or margarine
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
When I slice the tops of the tomatoes, I like to leave a small piece attached to the base to act as a hinge for the tomato top. This helps to keep the tops matched to the bottoms. Sprinkle a tsp. of sugar in each tomato cavity to help reduce the acidity.
Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh and reserve in a bowl. Be careful not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes. Scoop out the zucchini and add their flesh to the bowl. Using a food processor or food mill, process the pulp until you have a chunky liquid. Set aside.Prepare the stuffing:
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. When all the pink has disappeared, add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the parsley, rice, half the tomato pulp puree, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. (The paste is added to deepen the flavor and also to improve the color of the sauce.) Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce a bit so that it is not too runny. The uncooked rice will begin to absorb the excess liquid as it cooks.Stuffing the vegetables:
Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a rectangular pan. Assemble the vegetables in the pan and use the potato wedges to keep the vegetables upright. (I also like to put in some carrots because they sweeten the sauce as they roast.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Stuff the tomatoes and zucchini about 3/4 full. Replace the caps and sprinkle the tops with breadcrumbs. Place a pat of butter or margarine on each top. Pour the remaining pulp puree in the bottom of the pan and season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Bake for about an hour or until the vegetables have become tender and cooked through. For best results you can lower the heat to 275 and let the vegetables slow roast for a few hours.
The flavors develop as the vegetables sit so they can be enjoyed even more as leftovers the next day.