6 medium to large tomatoes (I say medium to large because some veggies have become gargantuan lately - just buy ones that are large enough to stuff, but not so large that they do not fit in the casserole dish/roaster)(buy four tomatoes you will stuff, and two that are extra ripe ones that will become the sauce)
4 medium green peppers (you can also use round or oblong summer squash)
1 cup of long grain rice
1 lb ground lean beef or turkey meat
1 small red onion chopped
2.5 Tbs chopped parsley
1.5 Tbs finely chopped mint (Note: do not use peppermint, the other kind)(you can also use dry, mint but use half the portion)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)(this is my addition, but my Grandmother said others in Greece use them too)
2 Teaspoons sugar
¾ Cup olive oil
¼ Cup white wine (optional)
First, make sure you have a pan (perhaps an Emile Henry Brazier) that accommodates all the vegetables. Then, cut the tops off the peppers and slice or pull out the core.
Turn 4 of the tomatoes upside down and using a very sharp knife, cut a circular hole, about 2 inches in diameter, in the top of the tomato.
In a medium sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil and add the onions, sauté until softened and then add the rice. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add the mint, parsley, black pepper and about 1 Tbs of kosher salt. If using white wine, add a splash and stir. Then add one cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid and cook until the water is absorbed. The point is that you are only half cooking the rice because it will absorb additional moisture from the vegetables.
In a medium sauté pan brown the meat, drain any fat, salt and pepper to taste (you can also substitute vegetable or soy protein if you are vegetarian or vegan).
Toast the pine nuts in a smaller pan, stirring frequently since they burn quickly! You can use the same pan you use for the meat, just rinse the pan before you brown the meat.
Cook for at least an hour in a 375 degree oven, basting with the juices about every 20 minutes. They will be done when they have burned a little on the tops. Turn the peppers half way through if you placed them at an angle in the pan. I also rotate the entire dish half way through cooking so they brown evenly. If they are browning too quickly and the filling and the rice is not fully cooked yet, add a little extra water and cover with aluminum foil.
Serve with warm crusty bread, feta cheese and olives. Trust me . . . they are good!!!