Karen Martini's baked stuffed tomatoes and capsicums

Tomatoes and capsicums stuffed with spiced rice, dried mint and halloumi.
Tomatoes and capsicums stuffed with spiced rice, dried mint and halloumi. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Vegetarian

There's something very wholesome and comforting about stuffed vegetables – to me, at least. They're perfect for the keen gardener with a surplus, but just as good with seasonal produce from the market. This is a dish with echoes from my childhood: trayfuls of fragrant, oven-burnished vegetables were a family staple. These are delicious hot or cold and can be eaten as a meal with yoghurt or tahini sauce, or served as a side with grilled fish or meat.

Ingredients

8 large, ripe, round tomatoes

6 red capsicums

extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp dried Greek oregano

2½ tsp ground cinnamon

salt and freshly ground pepper

500g medium-grain rice

800ml vegetable or chicken stock, plus an extra 250ml for baking

200g halloumi, finely diced

50g parmesan, finely grated

80g pine nuts, toasted

3 tsp dried mint

juice of 1 lemon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 165C fan-forced (185C conventional).

2. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and reserve. Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a teaspoon and reserve. Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt. Stand for 15 minutes.

3. Cut out the capsicums' stems and cores, then remove the seeds and membrane with your fingers.

4. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the tomato pulp and cook for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the oregano and cinnamon, season with salt and pepper, then stir in the rice to coat. Add 800ml of stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 12 minutes until the rice is just under-cooked.

5. Tip the cooked rice into a bowl and cool for a few minutes, then stir through the halloumi, parmesan, pine nuts, dried mint and lemon juice.

6. While the stuffing is still warm, fill the capsicums using a teaspoon, then stand upright in a deep-sided roasting tray.

7. Discard any liquid from the tomato shells. Fill the tomatoes with the remaining stuffing and stand in the tray with the capsicums; you're after a snug fit. 

8. Drizzle some oil over the top, then pour the extra stock into the dish. Cover with baking paper, then foil. Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes uncovered.

9. Serve in the dish with a yoghurt or tahini sauce*.

*Tip: plain yoghurt with some tahini to taste, a slick of olive oil and salt and pepper makes for a quick tahini sauce. Alternatively, if you're short on time, you can easily buy a pre-made one.