Feta, Nigella Seeds, Pomegranate Juice and Arils Combine for a Unique and Delicious Take on Stuffed Tomatoes.
I’ve been singing the praises of black rice for awhile now. I love its chewy texture and flavor. Plus, the deep purple color is so beautiful when it’s cooked. I find it irresistible in salads and mixed with other vegetables. There are different kinds of black rice and the one I prefer is Venere black rice .* I like how its grains remain separate and never get gummy.
Seeing as how tomatoes are at their peak right now, I decided to showcase them by stuffing them with black rice and baking them up in an unusual sauce. Because the rice is sturdy in texture I didn’t feel the need to add any meat. Instead I cooked the rice with shallots, garlic, Mina spicy harissa ,* chicken stock, tomato vinegar ,* and fresh oregano.
After it had cooled down, I tasted it, and while it was good, I then folded in crumbled feta and nigella seeds .* Oh, yeah, now this filling had become great. Okay, on to the sauce.
Because the filling had plenty of deep flavors, I wanted elements of sweet and tart in the sauce. I began by melting 1/4 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup fresh lime juice and letting it start to caramelize before adding 2 cups pomegranate juice, the reserved pulp and juice from the insides of the tomatoes, Aleppo pepper ,* black pepper, and salt. After letting this cook down for about 15 minutes, I tasted it and it was just what I had in mind – nice and bright, but with some sweetness and kick from the Aleppo pepper * and black pepper. I hoped it would perfectly compliment the tomatoes and their savory filling.
You’re always instructed to never over fill stuffed tomatoes because the filling will expand when it bakes. Well, I’d already cooked the rice, so I didn’t heed this warning. I heaped all the filling in the tomatoes and placed them into the pan of sauce. I made sure I didn’t pack the filling too tightly because I knew it would expand a little and I didn’t want the tomatoes to split open as they baked.
I drizzled them with a few glugs of olive oil, making sure I also got some down into the sauce. Then I placed the tops of the tomatoes onto the filling, gave them another shot of olive oil and set them to bake for about a half hour before turning on the broiler and letting them cook for an additional few minutes until the tops were lightly browned. A little fresh lime zest was really nice sprinkled on top, along with pomegranate arils and a few fresh oregano leaves.
Well, what a punch of flavor these tomatoes packed. That sauce was so delicious spooned over them. This is a meatless meal that fully satisfied us on all levels. And as usual, I’d highly recommend some good bread in order to sop up all that beautiful sauce. A simple green salad was the only thing needed in order for this meal to be complete. And yes, the leftovers were excellent, too. These were easily heated up in the microwave, but they were also good cold. Can’t really ask for more than that.a