Dining In

Tasty Tomatoes
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist


Tomatoes Stuffed with
Vegetables and Rice

You know you have a hit on your hands when your guests ask for the recipe. And that’s what happened when I served Fresh Tomato Soufflé at a holiday luncheon.

This recipe is similar to that favorite of hostesses that can be made ahead and maybe too often is — the sausage, cheese and egg combination. I have certainly served it plenty of times. This soufflé enjoys the convenience of the familiar version, but isn’t recognizable even as a cousin. With tomatoes and cheese only, the result is quite different. You may slice it, cut it in squares or just let guests spoon the soufflé if you serve it on a buffet as I did.

Stuffed tomatoes are another favorite for a dinner party or buffet. They, too, can be made ahead and make a colorful, festive addition to a table or buffet.

Instead of stuffing the whole tomato as pictured, you may want to stuff halved tomatoes. Either way, they will brighten your table. Perhaps you have had the small cocktail tomatoes stuffed with spinach and served as an hors d’oeuvre. Tomatoes Stuffed with Vegetables and Rice is the same idea using large tomatoes.

Make this one ahead as well and pop in the oven for just 15 minutes before serving time — a harried hostess’s dream dish.

Fresh Tomato Soufflé

Ingredients:

bullet1 lb. fresh tomatoes
bullet12 c bread cubes (French bread)
bullet2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
bullet1 c grated fresh Parmesan cheese
bullet1/2 c chopped onion
bullet2 t Italian seasoning
bullet4 c milk
bullet5 eggs, lightly beaten
bullet1/2 t salt

Directions: Use fully ripe tomatoes that have been allowed to ripen at room temperature. Dice tomatoes (makes about 3 cups). Place in large bowl. Set aside. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Set aside. Place bread on cookie sheets in a single layer. Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. To the bowl with the tomatoes, add toasted bread cubes, Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion, and Italian seasoning. Spoon into prepared baking dish. In a large bowl, combine milk, eggs and salt. Pour over tomato/bread mixture. With a spatula, press bread down to cover with milk mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes or refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350° until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Vegetables and Rice

Ingredients:

bullet6 large fresh tomatoes
bullet2 T olive oil
bullet11/2 c sliced fresh white mushrooms
bullet1 c chopped onion
bullet1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
bullet2 t minced garlic
bullet1 t dried basil leaves, crushed
bullet1/2 t salt or 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
bullet1/4 t black pepper
bullet1/2 c quick-cooking rice (or leftover cooked rice)
bullet1/4 c plus 2 T grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°. Cut a slice from the top of each tomato (or halve). Remove pulp and set aside. Chop tomato pulp (makes about 31/2 cups). In a large skillet over high heat, heat oil until hot. Add mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir until tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach, reserved chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Stir in rice. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Place tomato shells in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Spoon hot mixture into shells, dividing evenly. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each. Bake until tomatoes are hot and filling is golden, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 or 12 portions.

 

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