Stuffed Tomatoes from Constantinople
Gemista, in Greek, means Stuffed and it is my favorite summer dish in the whole wide world.
6 large bell peppers
6 large tomatoes
1 kg onions pureed
2 large garlic cloves pureed
1 cup Greek olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup white wine in tepid temperature
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup rice
1 ½ cups plain breadcrumbs
3-4 medium-sized potatoes, cut into medium-sized pieces
Soak the raisins in wine for half an hour.
Cut the tops of peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
Cut off the bottoms of the tomatoes.
Cut a thin slice, don't cut too low and make sure to keep the corresponding lid close by, so they don't get mixed up when using them as caps after you stuff them.
Using a spoon, scoop out the insides (most of the flesh, juices and all the seeds) of the tomatoes, being careful not to scoop too close to the skin, you need to leave a layer of flesh otherwise they'll break open.
Chop and reserve the pulp and juices.
Heat 5 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onions over low-medium heat until wilted, for about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and stir for a minute.
Mix in the tomato pulp and juices, the herbs, raisins in wine and pine nuts, and adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, or maybe a bit of cayenne, if you like.
When the mixture starts to boil, turn down the temperature, add the rice and let it simmer for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat and cover .
When it is cool enough to handle, using a spoon, stuff the vegetables and put their cap on top.
Lightly oil an ovenproof dish.
Put the stuffed vegetables in and arrange the potatoes in between in such way as to keep them the gemista strait.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the vegetables, pour the rest of the olive oil all around the pan, salt as much as you like, cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 o C .
Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 more minutes until the potatoes are done.