We are back home after a very long two weeks in Shreveport, Louisiana. We had a good time and enjoyed seeing old friends, but taking care of two young children is not in the usual job description for folks as old as my wife and me.
Susan had driven her car all the way from Santa Fe, so we knew that we had a long drive back. We decided we were not going through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex even though it was probably the shortest and fastest return. There is too much traffic; we have been there before many, many times; and the cityscape is, well frankly, boring.
Instead, we left the interstate at Tyler and headed up to Sherman, the home of a beautiful small liberal arts college, Austin College. The road was like so many country roads in Louisiana and Texas: well paved, not much traffic, and lines with farms and big stands of pines and hardwoods. The further west we got, the smaller the trees became. There were several towns along the way, but most were no bigger that a few hundred people. Every town, though, had an enormous high school and an even bigger football stadium. Every town also had several churches. Some had tall spires while others looked like they were just hanging on.
Still steeped in farm-to-table enthusiasm, we stopped at a small roadside stand several miles from any town. They were advertising fresh homemade ice cream along with fresh produce. We certainly helped their cash-flow that day. Susan bought several jars of homemade preserves, honey, pinto and Anasazi beans, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, watermelon, sweet cherries, fresh peaches, and bright red tomatoes. We had to re-arrange our already crowded back seat to make room for everything.
We resumed our travel, stopping in Amarillo overnight (That is another story, but probably not appropriate for a blog) and then got back on the interstate to complete our trip home.
Since then, we have been enjoying all of the fruits and vegetables from Shreveport along with more from the fruit stand. We’ve had fresh tomatoes sliced, in a salad, and along with avocado so it occurred to me that a tasty meal might include mashed sweet potatoes, a big slice of ham from the store, and baked tomatoes. That’s what we had last night.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 3 crimini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle on top of the tomatoes
- 3 scallions including green tops, chopped finely
- ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup panko
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Cut off the stem ends of the tomatoes. If needed, cut a very thin slice off the blossom end so that the tomato will sit flat. With a grapefruit knife or grapefruit spoon, remove the pulp from the tomatoes, leaving a rim of about ¼ inch of the flesh. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
- Rinse any seeds from the pulp, sprinkle with salt, chop finely, and set aside to drain any excess water.
- In a small pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until they have given up their liquid and it has evaporated, about three minutes. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with their cooking oil, scallions, parsley, panko, Italian seasoning, and vinegar. Blot the chopped tomato pulp dry with paper towels and add it to the mixture.
- Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the tomato shells with the mixture, packing it firmly. Top with the Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and place in the middle of an oven preheated to 350° F. Bake for 30 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the tomatoes to plates and serve immediately.