Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

Today’s recipe is from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. If you are at all interested in cooking delicious vegetarian foods, you need to pick up this book. (I am not at all affiliated with Mark Bittman; I just really enjoy this book.)

Since I am slightly handicapped when it comes to scraping out the guts, and the oven is required (which we almost never use in the hot half of the year), so we don’t eat these too often, but they sure are tasty…

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

A simple and delicious dish in which tomatoes are stuffed raw and roasted in a really hot oven to maximize caramelization. This single cooking technique works best for vegetables with a good amount of water in the flesh, which you clean of seeds, chop, and mix into the rice and cheese stuffing.

The tomatoes can be prepared for stuffing in two ways: by slicing off a “lid” and creating a container out of the whole tomato or by halving the tomato, scraping out the insides, and stuffing each half (best for large tomatoes or for making stuffed-tomato appetizers).

Other vegetables you can use: bell peppers (the insides will be hollow), mushrooms, small eggplant, and summer squash can be stuffed raw; chayote, onions, winter squash, cabbage, or any sturdy cooking green must be parcooked before being stuffed.

ingredients

  • 4 to 6 firm ripe tomatoes, about 6 ounces each
  • 1 cup cooked white, basmati, brown, or wild rice, or any cooked grain
  • 1 cup grated Gruyére, Asiago, manchego, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves for garnish

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Cut a 1/4-inch slice from the smooth end of each tomato (the stem end is typically flatter and makes for a more stable base). Reserve these slices. Use a spoon to scoop out all of the insides of the tomatoes, leaving a wall about 1/4 inch thick. Discard the woody core and seeds and chop the pulp; mix it with the rice, cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with salt and pepper, stuff them with the rice mixture, and replace the top slices. Spread half the olive oil in a shallow roasting pan that will allow for a little room between the tomatoes and put them in the pan. Sprinkle all with salt and pepper and put the roasting pan in the oven.
  3. Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are shriveled and the stuffing is hot. Test by inserting a metal skewer into the center, removing it, and putting the skewer on your wrist or lip; if it’s warm, the stuffing is hot. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, drizzled with the remaining olive oil and garnished with the herb.

The book includes variations: red peppers stuffed with quinoa and goat cheese; zucchini stuffed with couscous; acorn squash stuffed with wild rice.

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