It can be tricky business when traveling to make sure you’re not eating at a tourist trap. Depending on where you are, if it’s got the word “authentic” in the title, it probably isn’t. If they admit to serving frozen, it’s probably crap, and if there’s loads of foreigners eating there, it’s probably for the birds.
While we were in Greece for nearly a month, it was inevitable that we were going to have a few sad meals. This was even more true while traveling in high season, August (which I do not recommend to anyone, ever). But after a few days, we learned that the locals ate late, they ate fresh, and they ate well.
For anyone wandering with gastronomy in mind, I have some unsolicited advice for you; walk your neighborhood a bit. Check out where (and what) the locals eat. Chances are it’s fantastic, and you should get in on it. This is how the Englishman and I happened upon “Pregnant Tomatoes”.
“Pregnant what?”, he asked. “I think they mean stuffed”, I replied. We had walked by the restaurant a few times already, and it had all the makings of great stuff, packed with (local) people, stuffing their faces and charmingly inebriating themselves with ouzo and wine. Plus some handsome fellow playing a bouzouki (the Greek version of a Madnolin). Why not?
We we so. impressed. with our pregnant. tomatoes. We ate them just slow enough to develop a sense of what might be inside, which we later ran home to write down. “You must makes these”, he mandated.
So here we are, recreating that lovely evening where we stuffed our faces with these little beauties, on the island of Naxos, Greece.
Audio Pairing: “Zorba the Greek” by Cacho Tirao
Gemista - Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
By August 28, 2013Published:
- Yield: 4-6 Large Stuffed Tomatoes (3-4 Servings)
- Prep: 10 mins
- Cook: 60 mins
- Ready In: 1 hr 10 mins
Slightly Adapted from Magda's My Little Expat Kitchen
- 4-6 Large beefsteak Tomatoes
- 250 ml good olive oil
- 1 large onion grated
- a bunch of fresh mint chopped
- 100 grams rice
- 250 ml water
- salt + pepper to taste
- 2-3 potatoes chopped
- 500 ml ground beef (or lamb)
- Rinse your tomatoes and cut off the tops. Scoop the pulp with a spoon, making sure not scoop too closely to the skin.
- Place the tomato pulp into a food processor and pulse.
- Place the tomatoes inside your baking dish and surround them with the chopped potatoes.
- Sauté your grated onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil, then add your beef (or lamb) for a few minutes.
- Add the tomato pulp and rice to the pan, as well as your mint. Give it a good stir. Cook the ingredients until the rice is almost done. If you need to, add a little water to the mixture (it will cook the rest of the way in the oven!)
- Preheat your oven to 200 C / 390 F . Fill each tomato 3/4 full, and replace the 'lid'.
- Pour the rest of the olive oil over the tomatoes, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Bake for about an hour or until the 'lids' start to brown.
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