Great things happen in the kitchen when you are pushed outside of your normal little box! I’ve gotten heirloom tomatoes a few weeks in a row now in my Chow Locally CSA box. And, my friends, I must confess that I hate raw tomatoes! There’s just something about them I can’t stand. The seeds are all gooey and wet… Yuck! ;) However, I do enjoy them cooked, and while the Heirloom Tomato Pie that I’ve made three times now is delicious, I can’t eat it every week (Side note: that recipe calls for mayonnaise, I’m not a fan of mayonnaise so I sub sour cream and a squeeze of lemon juice)!
In the search for new ways to use the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, this recipe was born. The tomatoes get so sweet when they’re cooked up like this and the stuffing pairs very well with that sweetness. I used chicken sausage in this stuffing, but I think they could be great without it (see note below). Whole Foods was having a sale on them so I stocked up and put a few in the freezer for later use. :)
If you’ve never used heirloom tomatoes before, I highly recommend that you try them. They have incredible flavor compared with their red hothouse companions. In fact, there is even recent research to support this! In an effort to get beautiful, evenly red tomatoes, farmers bred tomatoes with more water content than flavor components and came up with the beautiful but flavorless tomatoes that are abundant in all of our grocery stores.
Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes
2 large Italian style chicken sausage links*
6 heirloom tomatoes, prepared
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 c. wild rice
1/3 c. white wine (medium to dry, like a chardonnay)
1 c. water
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
Inside of 1 tomato, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 tbsp shredded mozzarella
*Do it vegetarian- omit the sausage and up the protein by using 1/2 c. quinoa & 1/2 c. wild rice. Or, you can use all quinoa instead of the rice. Add some more herbs to make up for the seasonings in the sausage. Parsley, thyme, and/or a touch of fennel would be good.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put a medium sized pot over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and brown it in the pan, breaking it into small chunks as it cooks. Remove the sausage and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
Drain the excess fat and put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with the wine (make sure to get all the brown bits off the bottom!). Cook for a minute or two until the liquid is slightly reduced.
Add the rice, water, and a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cover, reduce the heat to low and cook to the package specifications (I had parboiled rice that only needed to cook for 15 minutes).
While the rice is cooking, use a melon baller to scoop the insides of the tomatoes out. Feel smart for using a melon baller. Save the insides to make pico de gallo later and feel smart for not being wasteful. Make sure to leave a fairly thick wall on the tomatoes so they don’t collapse during baking.
After the rice is done cooking, stir in the Parmesan, sausage, chopped innards of one tomato (unless you’re like me and forget to do this), and basil. Taste and add some salt and pepper if necessary.
Place the hollowed tomatoes in a prepared baking pan and stuff as much stuffing as humanly possible into the tomatoes (realize that four tomatoes are far too few for all that stuffing and that you should probably say 6 for the recipe on your blog).
Bake the tomatoes for 20 minutes (15 if your oven runs a little hot). Sprinkle 1 tbsp of shredded mozzarella on each tomato and bake for another 5 minutes.
Serve with a side salad or other veggie of your choice. This will feed 3-6 other people depending on how hungry they are and what else you serve with it (I ate one while the boyfriend at two of them). Enjoy!
Be Happy! :)