Tag Archives: baked stuffed tomatoes

PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

One of my favorite stalls at the farmers market often has unusual vegetables that are not available from other vendors. They always have several varieties of eggplants and bok choy. They have baskets of chiles I have never heard of. They also have several varieties of cauliflower including the traditional snow-white head and a cheese-yellow variety they call Cheddar. This last time they had several heads of an intensely purple variety.

A while back I wrote about some nearly black haricots verts that turned green when they were cooked. I wound up writing about the water soluble pigments, anthocyanins, that leech out during cooking. It seemed likely to me that the same situation existed with the cauliflower. I asked the young woman at the cash register if the purple cauliflower would turn green when it is cooked. She assured me that it would remain its same amazing color. Of course, I was skeptical so I bought a head to try.

I wound up grilling the cauliflower as thick “steaks” rather than boiling it. That was really not a fair trial, but the woman was right – the cauliflower kept its vibrant color. I guess I will need to go back, buy another head, and plan a more scientific experiment using boiling water.

Here’s the grilled purple cauliflower “steak” along with baked stuffed tomatoes.  I got the beautiful tomatoes from another  vendor at the farmers market. Together they make a nice vegetarian dinner plate.

RECIPES

Grilled Cauliflower “Steak”

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 head purple cauliflower, cut into ½ inch slabs
  • salt and pepper
  • sesame oil

Method

  1. Heat a grill, indoor or outdoor, to high temperature and lightly oil the surface
  2. Place the slabs of cauliflower on the hot surface and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. The cauliflower should stay crisp and get a light char.
  3. Transfer the grilled cauliflower to a plate and season with salt, pepper, and a few drops of sesame oil to taste. Serve.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on the tops of the stuffed tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fine, dry bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Core the tomatoes and cut in half horizontally. Remove the seeds. With a grapefruit knife or paring knife, remove the fleshy ribs of the tomatoes and chop them finely. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauté pan, sauté the chopped mushrooms for a few minutes until completely softened. Remove from the heat.
  3. Combine the chopped tomato ribs, mushrooms, Parmesan, and bread crumbs.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the four tomato halves
  4. Place the tomato halves on a lightly oiled roasting pan in the middle of an oven preheated to 250°F for about 20 minutes while you are preparing and grilling the cauliflower. Serve.

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SAUSAGE-STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Zucchini season, and the bounty keeps rolling in. We do not have any squash plants in our garden patch, but there is an abundance at the farmers market and from our neighbors. It is a common situation. Many folks this time of year are experiencing zucchini burn-out. Squash blossoms are delicious, but they require immediate attention to maintain their freshness. Sautéed squash begins to get a bit boring, and so the search of the web and a shelf of cookbooks begins. Deborah Madison, the Santa Fe-based vegetarian cookbook author has numerous suggestions in her collections. I especially recommend her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, New York) and The Savory Way (Broadway Books, New York) for all sorts of suggestions.

One of my favorite ways to cook zucchini is to grate it with a box grater, sauté it along with some scallions and sliced mushrooms in olive oil, drain any excess oil, stir in some sour cream and fresh lemon juice, and serve. So simple that no recipe is needed

Today, though, I am going to write about stuffed zucchini. The first time I ever had a stuffed squash was years ago at the home of a colleague from Greece who stuffed the tender fruits with feta, Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. This version is a little more complicated but still not difficult.

RECIPE

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 3 firm, medium zucchini (make certain they are not too big)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 medium crimini mushrooms, washed and chopped
  • ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage (mild or hot, your preference)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup almond flour (use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
  • 1 egg, beaten slightly
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly (or enough to cover the zucchini)
  • ½ pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • cooking spray
  • butter

Method

  1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon or sharp paring knife, hollow out the squash with about ¼ inch of a rim remaining. Try not to pierce the skin of the squash.
  2. In a medium sauté  pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are translucent but not browned. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, and cook until they give up their liquid and the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a cooking spoon so that it is completely crumbled.
  4. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and while it is still warm, stir in the cream cheese so it is completely incorporated. Stir in the almond flour and egg. Set aside until you are ready to stuff the zucchini.
  6. Choose a baking pan that is large enough to hold all of the squash, or use two dishes, and spray generously with baking spray.
  7. Arrange the zucchini in the pan, and spray them lightly with baking spray.
  8. Fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the sausage mixture.
  9. Top with tomato slices seasoned with more salt and pepper, and cover with the grated Swiss cheese.
  10. Dot with butter, and bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350° F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the zucchini is tender.
  11. Serve immediately.

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BAKED STUFFED TOMATOES: STOPPING BY A TEXAS FRUITSTAND

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.

RECIPE

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Rinse any seeds from the pulp, sprinkle with salt, chop finely, and set aside to drain any excess water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. 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.

 

 

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