Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stuffed Tomatoes à la Grecque

Here's another outing with Indie Plate ingredients. Indie Plate is a Baton Rouge, La.-based grocery delivery service, sourcing from farms and artisans all around the regions and then bringing that bounty straight to your doorstep.

Rotten tomatoes you toss at things you find odious and offensive (like bad movies, for instance). Fresh, local treasure those babies. You find a way to spotlight that natural sweetness and bright color.

And then I guess you eat them or whatever. Your mileage may vary!

To glorify my lovely tomato babies (which came from Morrow Farm out of Ponchatoula, La.) I turned to the masterful Gastronomique. French cooking can be daunting, no lie, but the recipe for stuffed tomatoes à la grecque was simple enough and served my aim to make something simple, well-spiced, and pleasing to the eye.

My one problem: someone stole my damn saffron. I am just mad about saffron (that is, my kitchen's current lack of it)! (It is probably not stolen. I misplace things.) So anyway, I substituted turmeric and the world moved on.

Ultimately, I produced two tomatoes teeming with toasted, spiced rice and golden raisins. And now you'll be able to as well! Recipe follows.

Stuffed Tomatoes à la grecque (from LaRousse's Gastronomique)
Serves 2 as side or appetizer.

Ingredients:2 homegrown tomatoes
1/2 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup golden raisins
Pinch of powdered saffron (I used turmeric as a less costly substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Bouquet garni (mine consisted of 1 stalk celery, 1 medium carrot, 1/2 medium white onion, all chopped, and two sprigs thyme—tied up in cheesecloth which was folded over just once)
Olive oil

1. Soak the golden raisins in 1 cup lukewarm water until they swell, then drain.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and toast, stirring frequently, until the grains become transparent.
3. Add 1 cup boiling water to saucepan, stirring to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan. Add saffron, salt and pepper, cayenne, and bouquet garni.
4. Return rice to a boil and then cover and simmer until rice is all the way cooked (about 20–30 minutes).
5. Preheat oven to 475. Slice the tops off the tomatoes (reserving tops) and remove pulp and seeds. Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt and then turn them upside down to drain in colander.
6. Once the rice has cooked, drain and cool before stirring in raisins. Taste and reseason as desired.
7. Dry the hollowed tomatoes and then drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil inside each tomato. Fill each tomato with mixture and then replace the sliced top.
8. In an ovenproof dish coated with oil, place each tomato, nestled closely together. Bake for about 15–20 minutes or until tomatoes have started to soften.
9. Serve immediately.

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