Travelled to The Mediterranean, but through my Kitchen
Are you traveling right now? Are you sipping piña coladas at the beach, getting yourself, all bronzed up to look a golden god or goddess for the rest of the summer? Well, if you are, I am low key a bit annoyed and insanely jealous. It seems as if people are going back to the “norm” of 2019 and jet setting on their summer holidays, enjoying a few drinks at the pub with friends, and enjoying the good life.
NEWS FLASH! Corona is still very much present, three months ago everyone was petrified of this virus and they stayed home and found the new hobby of baking. Now from what I see on the news, the general public in these countries that have a high number of cases, think the virus has vanished, and everyone is back to living their previous lives. What honestly shocked me was seeing that photo, on BBC IG, of Bournemouth beaches in the UK packed with people! Do people not listen to the news? Seeing the photographs and videos made me anxious for them. I mean yes, it was the hottest day of the year, but there were other ways for the people to enjoy a scorching day. Perhaps take a refreshing walk (with your mask) and go to your local Co-OP or Tesco, get some of those makeshift BBQ grills and ice-cream (particularly some Soleros) and sit in your garden and enjoy the heat there. Not in crowded public places.
Believe you me; I am DYING to get out of Nairobi, get some natural Vitamin D, and just swim in the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean. However, until the county borders open again and there is a lower risk of the virus spreading, I am not going anywhere. Which is annoying but better to be safe and not catch a virus that has no vaccine or treatment. The only way I am thinking of traveling is through cooking and baking.
I think one of the best ways to experience a place while traveling is through its cuisine. In my opinion, I find that each country/ region has a distinct flavour that represents its country in some way. For example, I think that the majority of Italian dishes have a tomato base of some kind. Pakistani and Indian curries have a similar base of using onion, garlic, and ginger, but yet it’s the spices that they use which differentiates them as “their dish.” Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel the world to experience all the different flavours. However, luckily the internet has thousands of recipes, that can help me try too.
Thank God for the 21st century; honestly, the amount of information one can find in a matter of seconds is incredible. For my food travels, I decided that I wanted to visit the Mediterranean, because for one I do miss the sun, and at the moment here in Nairobi, Kenya we are experiencing our “cold season.” Hence, it’s not as warm as I usually like, and two, I want to eat something that is filling but not too heavy. I tried to look at recipes online but couldn’t find one which tickled my fancy, so I scoped the old traditional way and looked through cookbooks!
After a few books, I found a recipe, which mum got from a friend and she wrote it down. It was stuffed tomatoes with some potatoes! These stuffed tomatoes are super easy and delicious. The ingredients include Better Boy (yes, that’s what it’s called) tomatoes, Arborio rice, potatoes, sultanas, onions, pine nuts, parsley, salt, and pepper. It’s similar to making a risotto; however, its cooking the rice in the tomato pulp from the Better Boy tomatoes as well as the additional water. It’s a mix of savoury and sweet, but yet this dish is healthy and filling. Usually, this dish pairs well with baked feta cheese with oregano and potatoes. However, unfortunately I didn’t have either ingredient in the pantry, so I paired the meal with focaccia. I saw this super, simple recipe for Focaccia on IG by Benjamina (bakedbybenji), and I wanted to try to make it as I haven’t had focaccia in a very long time. The pairing was just what the doctor ordered; the focaccia was baked to perfection! You know when you have reached the right amount of crispiness? It is when you are cutting the bread, and you just hear that crack, ah I was in HEAVEN.
So, during this pandemic I took a trip to the Mediterranean. I was not able to physically visit the beaches of Mykonos or Sicily, and eat my heart’s content on their food. Although, I was able to visit and get some sort of idea of how the culture would be like through my palette. In the next couple of weeks, who knows where my hungry stomach will take me.
Check out the recipe below for the stuffed tomatoes with potatoes. Try it, and you won’t regret it!
Stuffed Tomatoes with Roasted Potatoes
12 Large tomatoes, salt and pepper
250g finely chopped onions
55g pin nuts
300ml olive oil
250g short or medium grain rice
1 bunch of chopped parsley
500 g potatoes, cut into wedges
Preheat the Oven to 180°C. Hollow out the tomatoes, add salt and pepper inside and place in a roasting dish.
Wash onions and drain. On a small frying pan dry roast the pine nuts for 2 minutes or colour has turned slightly brown.
Brown onions in 100 ml of oil, then add the rice, sultanas, and pine nuts. Stir and add the tomato pulp, salt, pepper parsley and 250ml water. Simmer until rice is half cooked.
Fill the tomatoes with the rice, but not completely full to allow room for the rice to expand.
Clean, wash the potatoes and cut into wedges, add salt and pepper and place in-between tomatoes in roasting dish.
Pour remaining oil over the tomatoes and potatoes and bake for 45 -60 minutes.
Once it's ready pair this meal with a delicious refreshing Pinot Grigio!
Thanks for reading! In these Corona times stay safe, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing to protect your selves and others. Have a wonderful weekend ahead!