Tomatoes stuffed with basil and cornbread

This recipe is in honor of tomato and fresh herb season, which is finally upon us. Any sort of tomato can be used (I even used cherry tomatoes once for a bite-sized version, but what a hassle!), but cooking time may have to be adjusted based on the qualities of the particular tomato. The photos were taken the last time I made this, well before home grown tomatoes were available, so the ones pictured are the organic “on the vine” hothouse type.

I like to make this recipe as a side or pot-luck dish, but it also works for a light meal, especially with a tosses side salad of chopped romaine, pine nuts, goat cheese and garlic lemon vinaigrette. This is the vegetarian version. Try adding a spoonful of crumbled bacon or chopped Tasso ham to the stuffing if you dine on the swine. One could also adapt this recipe to any hollow-able vegetable—red or green peppers, squash, maybe even eggplant.

You will need:

8-10 medium just-ripe tomatoes

½ pan day-old (stale) cornbread

¼ cup pine nuts or chopped pecans

1 medium shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup thinly sliced celery stalks

¼ c. minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (a big handful)

Salt, cracked black pepper and cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of olive oil

About 3 cups vegetable stock

Balsamic vinegar for drizzle

Preparation:

An hour or two (or even a day ahead), crumble stale cornbread into a large bowl, and then add shallots, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and basil. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic, celery and shallots. Cook until just soft, about two or three minutes. Set aside. Toast pine nuts in the warm skillet. Toss to combine. Gradually add stock until mixture becomes moist, but not runny. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Mix well, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Before stuffing, mix in pulp from hollowed tomatoes (see below).

Wash and cut the tops off of the tomatoes. Carefully scoop out seeds and pulp with a small spoon or melon ball scoop. Turn the tomatoes upside-down on a dishcloth or paper towel so that the inside of each “cup” can dry out a bit.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a small spoon to scoop stuffing into tomatoes. You don’t want to pack or overfill them because it will make the tomatoes more likely to split when baking. Fill each just to top of the cup, and line up the filled tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake the stuffed tomatoes 15-20 minutes, or until they are hot all the way to the center. They get overcooked, they are still delicious but will not be as pretty because the tomatoes are likely to melt and split.

Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to a plate, top each with a fresh basil leaf, and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

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One Response to “Tomatoes stuffed with basil and cornbread”

  1. fivepoundpossum Says:

    damn. this one sounds good. now if only i could keep cornbread around long enough for it to get stale…

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