I do feel sorry for Richard sometimes. Not only do I take the proverbial out of him here, but I also force him to eat vegetables. Without a side serve of meat.
‘Mmmmmm. That smells good, what’s for dinner?’ he asked as he walked into the kitchen after work.
‘Hmmmmm. I’m not sure you’re going to like it’ I said setting expectations low.
Suspicions were immediately raised.
‘Does it have meat in it?’ he asked as he walked over to the hob for a look see.
‘That depends. Does tuna out of a can count as meat?’ I asked hopefully.
It counts apparently and a non-meat meal crisis was averted for another day.
Which is lucky because otherwise he would have missed out on these delicious stuffed tomatoes from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food which is this month’s Cook Book Guru project.
I have no idea why I picked this out of all the recipes I could have chosen. I guess I think I know how to make hummus and tagines. And I have a love hate relationship with eggplant. I can’t abide the squeakiness of it in some recipes and as much as I tried I couldn’t face doing babaganoush. Again.
This recipe spiked my interest because it felt a bit retro but with a modern twist – well modern for me since preserved lemons got all trendy but I guess they’ve been around in the Middle East for thousands of years. The ones in my fridge are ones I made last June and they’ve been hidden at the back of the shelf and forgotten about so this was a good excuse to use some of them up.
I was afraid Richard might think they were a bit ‘girlie’ but his only comment was that he really liked the capers and olives and that he’d eat them again.
- For once I actually followed the recipe but wish I’d listened to my instincts and put just a little bit of water in the bottom of the tray. The photo in Arabesque has gorgeous pan juices dotted with olive oil around the tomatoes – I added just a 1/2 cup of water half way through the cooking time which was enough.
- Roasting the peppers can be labour intensive – if I had access to jars of roasted peppers I’d use them to save time and mess in the kitchen. I know it’s more authentic to do them yourself but if I was serving this as part of a bigger mezze plate I’d cut a few corners.
- I’d put more preserved lemon in next time – or maybe zest of a lemon for a little more oomph.
- 4 red capsicums
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1x200g tins of tuna, flaked
- 2 tbsp capers
- 4 tbsp chopped black olives
- peel of ½ preserved lemon, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp chopped leaf parsley
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup of water
- 6 large tomatoes
- If you have a gas hob place the peppers directly in the flame, turning with tongs until their skins are black all over (I had 3 going at once and it took 15 -20 minutes). Otherwise roast them in the hottest oven for about 30 minutes or until they are soft and their skins are blistered and blackened, turning them once after 15 minutes.
- Put the peppers into a plastic freezer or sandwich bag, twist shut and leave for 10-15 minutes.
- When the peppers are cool enough to handle you can push the skin off under a cold water tap. Cut in half, remove the stem and seeds and give a final wash.
- Cut peppers into strips about 2cm wide and mix with the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes.
- Cut a small circle around the stalk of each tomato and cut out a cap. Remove the centre and seeds with a pointed teaspoon. Fill the cavities with the roast pepper mixture and replace the caps.
- Arrange in a shallow baking dish along with the water and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180C for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes are a little soft.
- Serve hot or cold.
There are no notes as to what to do with the leftover tomato flesh and seeds – and I seemed to have a lot. Inspired by a tomato pilaf in Arabesque I whizzed up the leftovers, made up the volume with water and cooked a cup of rice in it. If the weather was warmer I would have made gazpacho.
Served with a rocket salad and the tomato pilaf it made for a light supper and I’d definitely make this again – maybe for lunch or as part of a Middle Eastern mezze if I ever get that way inspired.
There’s a lot more to this book I know and I’d love to get my hands on a copy to see how many of the recipes are replicated in Arabesque. According to google books, this particular recipe appears in the Tunisian section and it’s in the Moroccan chapter of Arabesque. As I was reading through Arabesque I realised lots of the recipes were simpler versions of recipes that appear in Jerusalem and Plenty which just goes to show how ahead of the game CR was/is.
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