Basil-Perfumed Tomato Dolmas
4 large firm fresh tomatoes, (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces ground lamb
1/3 cup uncooked rice
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 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 1/4-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 about 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.