Photo: Lucy Schaeffer
Beefsteak tomatoes stuffed with sauteed onion and garlic, ground beef, rice and dill are staples in Greek tavernas, Melia Marden says. Cooks make them in the morning and keep them in a heated display case that's just slightly above room temperature, so if you order one in the afternoon or evening, it's perfectly plump and juicy. If you make yours ahead of time, you can refrigerate them—and just warm them gently in the oven before serving.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Using a paring knife, remove circular tops about 3 inches in diameter from the tomatoes (as on jack-o'-lanterns) and set aside. Using a spoon, scoop out and set aside the insides of each tomato, being careful not to scoop so much out that the tomato will fall apart in the oven. There should be a wall of tomato about 3/4 inch thick on the sides and slightly thicker on the bottom.
Place the tomato pulp in a strainer fitted over a bowl and mash and press with a spoon until you have about 1/2 cup tomato juice in the bowl. Discard the seeds and pulp and set the juice aside.
Place the tomatoes, scooped-out sides up, in a baking dish and use 1/4 tsp. of the salt to season the insides.
In a wide, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the beef, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and pepper to taste and stir well, breaking up the beef with a spoon. Cook until the meat is completely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir well to combine with the meat and onion.
Add the tomato juice and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has been absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the dill (if using) and stir to combine. Season generously with more pepper.
When the rice mixture is cool enough to handle, spoon about 1/2 cup of the mixture into each tomato (they should be tightly packed). Replace the tops on the tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 4 Tbsp. oil and rub to make sure the skins are all lightly coated. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt.
Roast until the exposed rice is lightly browned and the tomatoes are softened but still hold their shape, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Modern Mediterranean by Melia Marden © Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013.
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Published on May 07, 2013