Meat-Stuffed Vegetables

Legumbres Yenos de Karne


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean

Sephardic Flavors

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 2000

  • About

Grape leaves and cabbage leaves are one form of dolma. Equally popular in the Sephardic kitchen are the rellenos or reynadas, meat-and-rice stuffed vegetables offered as a main course and sometimes served with agristada, an egg-and-lemon sauce. This amount of filling will stuff about 4 pounds of vegetables. I have included directions for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, and onions. If you are using a medley of vegetables, select those of a similar size for a nice visual presentation. You can also use this filling for grape leaves. It will stuff about 60 leaves. for directions on folding and cooking.


For the Filling

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup dried currants, soaked in hot water until plumped and drained
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • About 4 pounds tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, zucchini, or onions, or a mixture
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • sugar and salt, if stuffing tomatoes

For the Egg-and-Lemon Sauce (optional)

  • 1 cup stock, any kind
  • 2 or 3 whole eggs, or 3 egg yolks
  • juice of 2 small lemons (4 to 5 tablespoons)


To make the filling, warm the olive oil in a very large sauté pan over low heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, salt, allspice, pepper, cinnamon, pine nuts, and currants and continue to sauté for 3 minutes. Add the meat and cook, breaking up any lumps, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and water and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

For reynadas de tomat (stuffed tomatoes): Cut off the tops of ripe tomatoes and scoop out the pulp. Reserve the tomato pulp and all juices, as well as the tops. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with salt and a little sugar. Set aside. Put the tomato pulp in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Add to the rice mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stuff the meat mixture into the tomatoes. Do not fill too tightly, as the rice will continue to expand. Place in a baking dish and replace the tops. Pour about cup hot water into the dish and spoon the ½ cup oil over the tomatoes. Bake uncovered, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the filling is heated through and the tomatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

For reynadas de pipirushkas (stuffed peppers): Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and remove the seeds. Parboil the shells for 4 to 5 minutes and drain. Stuff and bake as directed for tomatoes. Serve warm.

For kucaras de berenjena (stuffed eggplant): Take eggplants, cut in half, scoop out some of the pulp to make a shell, and reserve and chop the pulp, discarding as many seeds as possible. Sauté the chopped pulp with the onions. Sauté the eggplant cases in olive oil for about 5 minutes to soften them. Stuff and bake as directed for the tomatoes. Serve warm.

For kalavasas yenas de karne (stuffed zucchini): If using large zucchini, cut in half, scoop out and discard the seeds to make a case. If the zucchini are small, enlarge the hollows by cutting out a bit of the pulp, and then chop the pulp and sauté with the onions. Parboil the cases for 3 minutes and drain. Stuff and bake as directed for the tomatoes. Serve warm.

For reynadas de sevoya (stuffed onions): Boil the onions until they are tender but not soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, cut in half crosswise. Scoop out part of each half to make a cavity. Chop the reserved onion and add to the meat filling. Stuff and bake as directed for tomatoes, reducing the time to about 20 minutes. The onions should be golden. Serve warm.

If you are serving the stuffed vegetables warm, you may want to accompany them with an egg-and-lemon sauce. To make the sauce, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat the whole eggs or egg yolks with the lemon juice until quite frothy. Gradually whisk in a little of the hot stock to temper the eggs, then stir the eggs into the remaining stock. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Do not allow the mixture to boil. You can also separate 3 eggs, beat together the yolks and lemon juice until frothy, and then beat the whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the yolk mixture into the stiffly beaten whites, and then temper the mixture with the hot stock. Finally, add the egg mixture to the stock and heat gently. Spoon the sauce over the stuffed vegetables.