Monday, September 7, 2009

stuffed tomatoes

4 large ROUND heirloom tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, 1/4" dice
1 large zucchini, 1/4" dice
1/2 white onion, 1/4" dice
3 Tbsp parsley, roughly torn or chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Italian cheese blend
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp fresh Italian herbs (or 1.5 tsp dried)

This dinner is a multi-tasker. You will end up with way more stuffing than you need, but fear not (and look above) because it works into a second equally awesome recipe.

Chop all your veggies first. That way while you cook them, you can be hollowing out the tomatoes. If you are getting heirlooms, make sure to use the roundest ones you have. The weird, bulbous tomatoes are a pain to stuff. Not using heirlooms? Well the odds are that years of cross breading and hybridization have yielded you a nice, round tomato. Congrats. (It just won't taste quite as good.)

The way I clean them is simple. Cut off the top down past where the vine attaches, and squeeze all the tomato goo into the compost. Run your knife around the outer meat, cutting all the ribs, but being careful not to poke through the bottom. Next just grab a spoon, retrace the same cut you just did, only putting some pressure on the bottom rib of the tomato, and POW!, it should pop right out.

Heat a large skillet to medium and add your oil. Toss in the onions and allow to sweat until translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook until the peppers are softened, another 6-7 minutes. Now throw in your herbs, the zucchini, and some salt and pepper. Let this cook for a good 9-10 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through. Transfer 2 cups of this mixture to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, pressing as much liquid as you can back into the skillet. (We don't want soggy tomatoes, now do we?) Add the breadcrumbs and parsley to the mixture in the bowl, stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Your tomatoes should be completely hollowed out, with no seeds, liquid, or ribs inside. Stuff the mixture into the tomatoes, and top them with cheese. You can wrap them together if you like, or like we did in little individual foil pouches (if you are going to do them in the oven you could just just a sprayed Pyrex dish) making sure to spray the foil with cooking spray before inserting the goods. Just don't cover the tops, we aren't looking to lose any cheese here.

Place them on the cold side of the grill and pop the cover on, cook for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the stuffing is piping hot. Proceed to shove in face.

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