Basil-Perfumed Tomato Dolmas

TomatoDolmas4 large (about 2 pounds) firm fresh Florida tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces ground lamb or beef
1/3 cup uncooked rice (regular cooking)
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil, chopped (about 1/3 cup) or 2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Use tomatoes held at room temperature until fully ripe. Cut a thin slice from top of each tomato; remove pulp leaving a ΒΌ-inch thick shell; set aside. Chop pulp (makes about 1-1/2 cups). In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat oil; add onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add lamb; cook and stir for 2 minutes, breaking up meat.

Stir in rice, basil, cumin, salt, pepper, 1 cup water and reserved chopped tomato pulp. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Spoon rice mixture into reserved tomato shells. Place stuffed tomatoes in the skillet along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered, until tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.

Yield: 4 portions

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