Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stuffed Vegetables with Basmati Rice and Olives


One of my favorite Greek dishes! It can also be made with minced meat in the stuffing, but I prefer it with rice and veggies. You may enjoy it warm or cold as it is equally delicious! It’s quite time consuming to make, so I usually make quite a lot of it and enjoy it for a couple of days…if I get the chance!
You can really stuff any kind of vegetable you like. Tomatoes and peppers are the most typical, but eggplants, zucchinis, zucchini blossoms, vine leaves, large mushrooms, onions and potatoes are also great choices! Just use whatever is fresh, in season, and it can be stuffed in one way or another! Here I’ve used tomatoes, different kinds of peppers and eggplants. I also added chili and olives in the stuffing to make it more interesting, while others prefer to add nuts (especially pine nuts) and raisins, to give it a sweet touch. Traditionally, for this recipe they use long grain rice, but I prefer using basmati rice as it gives it a beautiful aroma. Rice may also be replaced with quinoa, millet and amaranth, cracked wheat or couscous. All of these choices are absolutely great, it really depends on your mood and cravings!!! 


So here is my basic recipe:

Ingredients 

7 tomatoes (I've used small ones here, so you might need to use fewer depending on their size)
4 eggplants
5 different kinds of peppers
1 large onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chili pepper, chopped
1 zucchini
4 tablespoons kalamata olives, roughly chopped (optional)
200 gr. basmati rice
¾ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
10-12 baby potatoes (I leave their skin on, but if you wish you may peel them)
Olive oil
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Sea salt and pepper
¾ cup water (or more)

Wash all your vegetables and let them dry. Cut the top of each tomato (put their tops aside cause you’ll need them for later) and scoop out their pulp with a teaspoon into a bowl (cutting it into smaller pieces when needed), leaving enough meat inside the skin so that it holds its shape when baked. Do exactly the same with the eggplants, but in this case you might need the help of a knife too. Chop the scooped-out center part and add it in the bowl with the tomato pulp.
Now the peppers are the easiest! Just cut the top off and remove the seeds.
Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking pan and arrange your hollowed vegetables, set aside.
Shred the zucchini and add it in the bowl with the tomato pulp and the chopped eggplant. Mix in the rice, olives, salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, chilies, basil and garlic. Cook in medium heat until soft and add the rice mix. 
Allow it to slowly cook for about 15 minutes or until the juices are absorbed and the rice has slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Mix in the chopped parsley and mint.
Preheat the oven at 190° C (374° F – Gas mark 5).
Start filling the hollowed vegetables with the rice mix and replace their tops. Once done, cut the potatoes and arrange them between the stuffed vegetables. Drizzle on top with some olive oil, add the water, and some extra salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.If it gets too dry while cooking, you might need to add some extra water.  In the meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan and some pepper. Remove the baking tray from the oven, sprinkle with the parmesan-breadcrumb mix and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. You may add some raw olive oil in the end if you like.















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