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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stuffed Tomatoes



Who said vegetables had to be boring and tasteless?!  These small stuffed tomatoes carry a big punch of flavor and a healthy dose of vitamins along with them.  The other day, I found these exotic looking "brown" Kumato tomatoes!  Who knew?!  I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were gorgeous, so I just HAD to try them.

Purely in the interest of "research," the first one was destined to become a tomato sandwich - salt, pepper and mayo on a loaf of French bread, still warm from the oven.  Isn't this the true test of a great tasting tomato?
So now, after a tomato sandwich and a lovely glass of red, let the fun begin!
                  Click for Printable Recipe
For the stuffing ingredients:
  • 1 handful mushrooms of your choice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded plus 1 tomato, chopped
  • to taste - salt, pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 large clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 of an orange (or yellow) bell pepper, finely diced 
  • 2 links of "breakfast sausage" (pork)
  • 1 handful Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves

Step-by-Step: 
Dice a large clove of garlic, about a quarter of a yellow bell pepper, and a medium sized shallot.


So this part may seem a bit weird, but this is a couple of breakfast sausages - the little finger-shaped ones the kids eat.  They are precooked, and highly seasoned.  This is like taking a big shortcut to flavor with very minimal effort or time.  (Gotta think outside of the box sometimes.)  You could also use turkey sausage to cut down the fat content here.
Take a handful of mushrooms (variety of your choosing), give them a wash, then drop them into some dry white wine for a while. They are like sponges and will start soaking up the wine.  You could also use chicken broth, of course, if you prefer.  I let them marinate in the wine roughly 10 - 15 minutes.
Run a small spoon around the edges of the tomato and pop the inside membrane and seeds out.
Salt the empty cavity.  This will start pulling extra water out of the tomato so the filling won't be too runny.  This photo illustrates the thickness of the skin of this variety of tomato.  This makes it a good choice for stuffing and baking/broiling as it will stand up to this heat nicely without totally breaking down.

Turn them over on a papertowel to drain while you are sauteing the filling. 
Seed and chop the "tops" of the tomatoes that were initially removed.
Saute the garlic, shallots and bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil until softened, but not brown.
Add in the mushrooms, which you have removed from the wine and chopped.  Saute for an additional 2 - 3 minutes.
Add in the chopped sausage, and cook long enough to start rendering some of the fat.
The mushrooms will soak up all of the moisture in the pan, so add in about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of the wine that they were previously soaking in.

Saute the mixture until everything is soft, cooked through, and most of the liquid had been absorbed from the pan.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Turn off the heat, and add in the chopped tomato tops, and a handful of Panko breadcrumbs.  These are fluffier and lighter than regular breadcrumbs (which may give you a denser, packier filling).  [Check the Asian isle at the supermarket.]
Finally, add in a generous grating of some good, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (this makes the world a happy place), and mix well.
Stuff the cavities of the tomatoes and top with additional cheese, freshly chopped basil, and a little extra cracked black pepper.
You could bake these (maybe 20 minutes or so?), but I popped these under the broiler for 5 minutes as we had a school function to get to.  The topping was golden and crunchy, the filling heated through, and the tomatoes soft but still firm (not mushy).

I'll definitely be doing these again.  Very pretty on the plate.  Big flavors.  One caveat - make a bunch!  One tomato is about 4 bites, so in my opinion, one serving is two or three of these!


Written Method:
Dice a large clove of garlic, about a quarter of a yellow bell pepper, and a medium sized shallot.  So this part may seem a bit weird, but this is a couple of breakfast sausages - the little finger-shaped ones the kids eat.  They are precooked, and highly seasoned.  This is like taking a big shortcut to flavor with very minimal effort or time.  (Gotta think outside of the box sometimes.)  You could also use turkey sausage to cut down the fat content here.

Take a handful of mushrooms (variety of your choosing), give them a wash, then drop them into some dry white wine for a while. They are like sponges and will start soaking up the wine.  You could also use chicken broth, of course, if you prefer.  I let them marinate in the wine roughly 10 - 15 minutes.

Run a small spoon around the edges of the tomato and pop the inside membrane and seeds out.  Salt the empty cavity.  This will start pulling extra water out of the tomato so the filling won't be too runny.  This photo illustrates the thickness of the skin of this variety of tomato.  This makes it a good choice for stuffing and baking/broiling as it will stand up to this heat nicely without totally breaking down.  Turn them over on a papertowel to drain while you are sauteing the filling.  Seed and chop the "tops" of the tomatoes that were initially removed.

Saute the garlic, shallots and bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil until softened, but not brown. Add in the mushrooms, which you have removed from the wine and chopped.  Saute for an additional 2 - 3 minutes.  Add in the chopped sausage, and cook long enough to start rendering some of the fat. The mushrooms will soak up all of the moisture in the pan, so add in about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of the wine that they were previously soaking in.  Saute the mixture until everything is soft, cooked through, and most of the liquid had been absorbed from the pan.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat, and add in the chopped tomato tops, and a handful of Panko breadcrumbs.  These are fluffier and lighter than regular breadcrumbs (which may give you a denser, packier filling).  Finally, add in a generous grating of some good, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (this makes the world a happy place), and mix well. Stuff the cavities of the tomatoes and top with additional cheese, freshly chopped basil, and a little extra cracked black pepper. You could bake these (maybe 20 minutes or so?), but I popped these under the broiler for 5 minutes as we had a school function to get to.  The topping was golden and crunchy, the filling heated through, and the tomatoes soft but still firm (not mushy).

Looking for more great recipe ideasPlease visit my Recipe Index for tons of menu ideas that you can make with/for your family.

 





Method:
Dice a large clove of garlic, about a quarter of a yellow bell pepper, and a medium sized shallot.  So this part may seem a bit weird, but this is a couple of breakfast sausages - the little finger-shaped ones the kids eat.  They are precooked, and highly seasoned.  This is like taking a big shortcut to flavor with very minimal effort or time.  (Gotta think outside of the box sometimes.)  You could also use turkey sausage to cut down the fat content here.
Take a handful of mushrooms (variety of your choosing), give them a wash, then drop them into some dry white wine for a while. They are like sponges and will start soaking up the wine.  You could also use chicken broth, of course, if you prefer.  I let them marinate in the wine roughly 10 - 15 minutes.
Run a small spoon around the edges of the tomato and pop the inside membrane and seeds out.  Salt the empty cavity.  This will start pulling extra water out of the tomato so the filling won't be too runny.  This photo illustrates the thickness of the skin of this variety of tomato.  This makes it a good choice for stuffing and baking/broiling as it will stand up to this heat nicely without totally breaking down.  Turn them over on a papertowel to drain while you are sauteing the filling.  Seed and chop the "tops" of the tomatoes that were initially removed.
Saute the garlic, shallots and bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil until softened, but not brown. Add in the mushrooms, which you have removed from the wine and chopped.  Saute for an additional 2 - 3 minutes.  Add in the chopped sausage, and cook long enough to start rendering some of the fat. The mushrooms will soak up all of the moisture in the pan, so add in about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of the wine that they were previously soaking in.  Saute the mixture until everything is soft, cooked through, and most of the liquid had been absorbed from the pan.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Turn off the heat, and add in the chopped tomato tops, and a handful of Panko breadcrumbs.  These are fluffier and lighter than regular breadcrumbs (which may give you a denser, packier filling).  Finally, add in a generous grating of some good, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (this makes the world a happy place), and mix well. Stuff the cavities of the tomatoes and top with additional cheese, freshly chopped basil, and a little extra cracked black pepper. You could bake these (maybe 20 minutes or so?), but I popped these under the broiler for 5 minutes as we had a school function to get to.  The topping was golden and crunchy, the filling heated through, and the tomatoes soft but still firm (not mushy).


Food Nerd Notes:
The Kumato actually considered a "brown" tomato.  Somewhat of a  mix of brown, green and red, giving it a look that is extremely elegant and unique.  The Kumato tomatoes are a variety of fruit originally from the Spanish Mediterranean and some people say that they are sweeter and more nuanced than average store-bought tomatoes. They do have a higher sugar content than most tomatoes and a durable, thick skin that doesn't bruise easily and gives the tomatoes a longer shelf life. At about the size of a golf ball, these tomatoes certainly exceed any expectation of an ordinary packaged supermarket tomato. They are sweet, with a balanced tartness, and a flesh that is firm, juicy, and akin to an overgrown cherry tomato.  Sources claim that the enhanced sweetness is due to their "brix level" (fructose content), which is naturally higher than that of traditional red tomatoes. - an ideal tomato for a Caprese salad,  or just a good old tomato sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper.  These tomatoes are said to not be genetically modified in any way. They are just an exceedingly sweet variety of tomato that has found its way to the American market.

Unlike other tomato varieties, seeds cannot be purchased by the general public. Syngenta (the developers of the Kumato) has stated that they will never make Kumato seeds available to the general public as the Kumato tomato is grown under a concept known as a club variety, whereby Syngenta sells seeds only to licensed growers that go through a rigorous selection process, and participation is by invitation only.   The introduction of Kumato into the marketplace has spurred the interest of both consumers and plant breeders alike. Dulcinea has through a similar growing club concept introduced the Rosso Bruno tomato, and Black Velvet from California Hybrids through the work of Dr. Kanti Rawal marking the first competitor to Kumato available to the general public.  That said, anyone can retrieve seeds from a Kumato and grow plants for private use.

Tomatoes carry a healthy dose of lycopene a phytochemical with high  antioxidant power.... but studies show that the nutritional benefits of the tomato are actually increased in the cooked state (versus raw)?  Additionally, tomatoes are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

Did you know that a yellow bell pepper has 230% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C?  That is twice as much vitamin C than you get from an orange (at 160%)! 

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