Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes

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In Turkey end-of-summer tomato bounty usually means time to can or jar tomato sauces or to make tomato paste. Unfortunately I am too lazy for any of those. I decided to say good bye to the summer and to the dearest tomatoes that I tremendously enjoyed all summer long with a nice dish. Stuffing tomatoes with rice or ground meat, although not as common as peppers or zucchinis, is common. Using bulgur rather than rice for stuffing is more popular in the central and eastern Turkey. Inspired by dolmas stuffed with bulgur, I tried using quinoa for my tomatoes which makes this recipe an authentic “almost” Turkish one.

For dolma it is important to pick firmer tomatoes. I prefer roma tomatoes for stuffing.

15 medium size firm tomatoes
1 cup quinoa
3 medium size onions, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (I never hold back olive oil)
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2-3 sweet peppers (any color), finely chopped
juice of half lemon
salt

-Wash the tomatoes and remove the tops to use later as a lid. Use a spoon or a melon scoop to remove the seeds and inside flesh. Save the flesh. Put the flesh in a food processor or dice them really small.
-In a big frying pan heat half of the olive oil.
-Add sugar, onion, pine nuts, and peppers, and saute until onions are tender.
-Add quinoa, stir for a couple of minutes.
-Add 1 cup of pureed tomato from the inside flesh. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes.
-Add 1 cup of hot water. Cover and simmer until the water is soaked. Turn the heat off.
-Add the remaining ingredients: black pepper, all spice, basil, parsley, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.
-Once it cools down start stuffing tomatoes with this mix. Do not over stuff them. Leave a little bit of room for quinoa to grow 🙂 Place the tops that you cut earlier on top. That top will keep your dolmas moist. (If you are out of tomatoes and still have more stuffing try zucchinis or potatoes, or just eat the stuffing it’s delicious.)
-Place the tomato dolmas in a somewhat deep (to prevent mess) panggangan proof pot or dish facing up.
-Pour the remaining olive oil and 1 cup or a little more hot water to cover almost half way up the tomatoes.

Now you can either cook them on the stove or bake them in the oven. I honestly think baked dolmas beat the stove cooked ones but it’s up to you.

For cooking on the stove:
-Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

For baking:
-First bring to a boil on the stove and then bake for 40-50 minutes at  400 F. Do not cover.

Reminders: It’s always a good idea to check the amount of water while cooking/baking. If the water is gone before the cooking is over, add hot water.

Let dolmas cool in their pots. Wait until they are luke warm before serving. This is an olive oil dish and like other olive oil dishes it’s best when it’s cold and even better the next day.

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