The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

In Zone Defence, Petros Markaris deftly avoids the usual gastronomic trap that this blog is all about, and cunningly places a recipe for Inspector Haritos's favourite dish at the end of the book. That is not to say that food is not mentioned at all in this very funny crime caper. Indeed, there's a whole scene set in one of the fancier restaurants in Athens, where Haritos's essential country-bumpkin disconnect with haute cuisine is revealed.

Stuffed Vegetables (Constantinople Style)

1 kilo tomatoes
500 grams green peppers
1 kilo onions
250 grams white short-gran rice (not parboiled or basmati)
500 ml olive oil (not sunflower oil)
Some pine nuts and currants
Salt, pepper and spice

  • Chop the onions, put them in a pan and leave to fry over moderate heat.
  • Slice the tops from tomatoes, remove pulp with a spoon and keep aside.
  • Do the same with the green peppers, removing the seeds.
  • When the onions are ready, add 250 ml of oil to the pan, together with salt, pepper and spice. Stir for a few minutes before adding the rice.
  • Stir the rice and onions before adding the pine nuts and currants.
  • Meanwhile, crush the tomato pulp with a potato masher. Add half of the pulp to the rice. Stir the mixture for a while, remove from heat and allow to cool for a short time.
  • Arrange the tomatoes and peppers in an ovenproof dish and, using a spoon, carefully fill them with the mixture. When finished, replace the tops and pour 250 ml of oil over them, together with the remaining tomato mixture diluted with a little water.
  • Cook in oven for 20 minutes at 250°C and then for another 40 to 50 minutes at 180°C.


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