Auntie Loulla (Loulla Astin) is my mother’s sister and the award winning restaurateur of the famous Kosmos Greek Taverna in Manchester. Her career has seen her cook on TV many times, including presenting her own cookery series on SKY and she was even invited to meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Here, she shares her vegan and vegetarian Greek stuffed tomatoes with rice and pine kernels. She made these without nuts when we recently visited her in Manchester as I’m intolerant.
Do also join her private Facebook Group which has thousands of members: Loulla’s Recipe Share.
Over to Loulla.
Stuffed vegetables are displayed in coolers in tavernas all over Greece and Cyprus in the summer. If you visit, it would be hard to miss them! We Greeks love them! The same recipe can be used to make stuffed peppers, courgettes or any vegetables you like, in fact. Cypriots like to add ground cinnamon into the stuffed vegetable too. It’s up to you if you decide to.
These stuffed tomatoes can be eaten hot from the oven as a starter, or as a main meal accompanied with a salad and maybe some roast potatoes or chips.
Serves 4-5 main – 8 -10 starters
8-10 very large beef, firm ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
100 ml (4 fl oz olive oil)
1 medium onion finely chopped or grated
2 cloves of garlic chopped
175 g(6 oz) long rice
75 g (3 oz) currants
75 g (3 oz)pine kernels toasted or dry fried
1 tbsp tomato purée
4 tbsp parsley chopped
2 tbsp mint, chopped
2 tbsp dill, chopped
7 fl oz (200 ml) warm water or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra olive oil
Wash the tomatoes and cut a cap from the bottom or the top being careful not to detach the cap. Using a small spoon scoop out the pulp and seeds. Discard the seeds and finely chop the pulp or blend, and put to one side. Place the tomatoes upside down and drain the juices for 5 minutes. Sprinkle each tomato cavity with a little sugar and place them onto a baking dish.
Heat half the olive oil into a medium sized pan and sauté the onion and garlic until transparent. Mix 1/2 the tomato pulp and tomato purée and cook for few minutes. Mix the rice, currants, pine kernels and the warm water, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked a little.
Remove from the heat and mix in the herbs and cool a little. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture allowing room for the rice to swell. Replace the caps, drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes pulp and season with salt and black pepper. Bake them in a moderate oven 190°c/ 375 °f or Gas Mark 5 for about 40 -45 minutes, or until tomatoes are brown.
In Greece they cook the tomatoes longer, but the British tomatoes don’t take long to cook. Serve warm with some roast potatoes or cold with a Greek salad.
Delicious, nutritious and naturally vegan so they’re good for you and the planet!
Copyright Loulla Astin. Photos by Peter Broadbent, copyright Honest Mum.
Check out Lou’s amazing apple pie!