Stuffed Vegetables

Stuffed Vegetables

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Tomates kai piperies gemistes or gemista

4 tomatoes (choose ripe red, full-fleshed tomatoes)
4 green peppers (choose rounded, medium-sized green peppers,
that will stand easily on their bases)
1 large, finely chopped onion, salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. ground pimento
2 tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley and mint, mixed
5 oz (150 g) uncooked weight of long-grain rice,
boiled for 5 minutes only so that it is still quite firm
1 1/2 oz (40 g) pine nuts
1 cup (8 fl oz/225 ml) olive oi
Juice of 1 medium lemon, 4 tbs. natural breadcrumbs

Wash the vegetables, then cut off and retain the tops and scrape out the flesh and seeds of the tomatoes. Chop the tomato pulp and rub it through a sieve to remove as many seeds as possible. Discard the seeds and cream-coloured ribs of the peppers, taking care not to break the skins of the vegetables.
Stand them upside down to drain. Greek cooks do not tend to blanch the pepper cases before using them, though this might be a wise precaution if you are using hothouse-grown peppers and want to ensure that they will cook to an extra tenderness. In this case you should blanch both cases and tops in boiling water for no longer than 5 minutes.
Heat 2 tbs. of the oil in a pan and saut̩ the onion. Add the tomato pulp, salt, pepper and pimento, chopped parsley and mint, and simmer for about a minutes. Now add the par-cooked rice and pine nuts, mix well together; and simmer over a very low heat for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle a little sugar into the tomato shells, then fill the tomatoes and peppers with the stuffing about 2/3 full Рthis allows for the expansion of the rice.
Place the tomatoes and peppers alternately in a casserole, replace the tops of the vegetables, pour over the remaining oil mixed with the lemon juice, and sprinkle w2th breadcrumbs. Add 1/2 cup water to the casserole and bake (325F; 160C, gas mark 4) for about 40 minutes, until the peppers are tender. Baste at intervals with the juices from the pan during baking. Serves 4.

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