Hello lovely friends. Welcome to 2014!! In the last few days I have been reflecting on the positive experiences of the year that has passed. I feel very blessed to have celebrated a 'significant' birthday for my mother in law, mother and Mr K. Also, a significant wedding anniversary for my parents. There were many special times with family and good friends. The arrival of new lives and the joining of beautiful souls in marriage. There was also the exciting discoveries that came with a 'first time' visit to New York, New Caledonia, Puglia in Southern Italy - and of course, new places in Greece!
2014, will hopefully be even more wonderful, than the year that has passed. New Year's Eve presented a great omen for the coming year when, while I was making a dark chocolate Venetian rice torte, I cracked open an egg to find - a double yolk! Certainly, my garden has lived up to this expectation and it is bursting with bright summer goodness. The heritage Australian and Italian varieties of tomatoes have been particularly abundant - and beautiful.
The colours of the garden reminded me so much of our recent trip to Greece, so it was fitting that I decided to make some Greek Domates Yemistes (stuffed tomatoes) - a quintessential Greek summer dish with our beautiful tomatoes. Instead of the usual herb and rice filling (see the recipe here) I decided to up the 'green factor' by stuffing the tomatoes with another Greek favourite - spanakorizo (spinach rice) (see the recipe here). The tomatoes are best served, simply, with a big chunk of good Greek feta, a big drizzle of flavoursome extra virgin olive oil and some rustic country style bread. We had a tiny bit of the first pressed olive oil that we had bought home from Puglia. It was such a treat to be able to use it on our own homegrown produce.
Greek stuffed tomatoes with spinach rice
8 -10 small-medium tomatoes
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of dill
1 bunch of spinach, chopped
1 bunch of beetroot leaves (or other interesting Greens), chopped
1/2 cup Greek carolina rice or aborio rice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dill
2 cups vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper
Extra olive oil for drizzling
Feta and bread to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and reserve. Scoop out the insides, placing in a separate bowl, taking care not to split or pierce the tomato skins. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and turn upside down in the baking dish you will use, allowing them to drain.
2. Reserve the insides of the tomatoes for another use (purée and use to spread on pizzas or for a fresh tomato sauce for pasta).
3. Sauté the chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, over medium heat, in a frying pan. Keep stirring so that they do not become overly brown or scorch. When the vegetables are soft add the dill and stir throughly. Then add the rice and stir, coating it in the herb and garlic flavoured oil. Next, add the chopped spinach and greens.
4. Add 1cup of stock. Cook over a low heat until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid (ie. you should have something similar to a half cooked risotto) You may need to add a little more stock from time to time to stop the rice from sticking to the pan.
5. Remove from the stove and fill each tomato with the mixture. Be careful not to stuff too full, or the tomatoes will split. Place the filled tomatoes and replace the caps on the tomatoes. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the base of the pan. Drizzle with oil and bake for about 1 hour covered with foil. Remove the foil and then cook for around 1/2 hour. Serve with feta cheese, a drizzle of oil and rustic, wholewheat bread.
I hope you, lovely friends, have all had a wonderful start to 2014 - and if you live in the Southern Hemisphere - that you are enjoy the glorious summer and all it's beautiful produce! I would love to know what your quintessential summer dish is?