Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

More bounty from the garden! Our tomatoes have not had much taste this summer, but with this recipe, they are sure to be delicious. The original recipe called for Gruyere cheese (which I find to be terribly expensive);  I substituted Swiss. I think the tastes are similar and with all of the other good flavors in the tomatoes, I hardly think you'll notice the switch. Of course, you could use any cheese that you prefer.... mozzarella and/or Parmesan plus a little basil,  Monterrey Jack and some cilantro.... go wherever your taste buds take you with this basic recipe. I found "day old" cibatta for 1/2 price and used that for the stuffing. Any firm (AKA stale) bread will do.  From my deep Southern roots, I sprinkled the tomatoes with a tiny bit of sugar before filling them.... Mama always said it "kills the acid taste".  Have fun and enjoy the last tomatoes of the season!

We have a cute little local Farmer's Market on Wednesday mornings with nice local products and a precious English lady who bakes. I'm going to buy a large basket of Roma tomatoes this week to make (and freeze) Marinara Sauce. It's our favorite with fresh homemade pasta. And I'll buy some baked treats from Miss Ann... I need to help our local economy and besides, it's nice to eat someone else's cooking once in a while! I'm not sure how to link you back to the Marinara Sauce recipe (maybe one day I'll get that sophisticated- maybe not!) but it was posted long ago.. search for it and if you need it and can't find it, just e-mail me and I'll share it. It is YUMMMY!

Cheese Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 large, firm tomatoes, halved crosswise
4 to 6 ounces rustic white bread (such as ciabatta), torn into large pieces (about 1 quart)
1 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion 
2 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush an 11- by 13-inch glass baking dish with one tablespoon of olive oil. Using a small, sharp paring knife, cut around the inside wall of the tomato to loosen the seeds and jelly. Then, working over a large, deep bowl, use a tablespoon to gently scrape out the seeds and flesh, taking care to leave the tomato intact. Make sure each tomato half sits flat. If it doesn't, use the paring knife to shave a small slice off the bottom of the tomato, which will ensure that it sits level in the dish. Place tomato halves in baking dish.  Place bread pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to create breadcrumbs. You should have two cups. Add 1/2 cup cheese, onion , parsley, thyme, red pepper, lemon zest, and salt and black pepper to taste, and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle 1/2 cup of olive in through the spout in the lid. Blend until mixture clumps together slightly.

Divide filling evenly between 12 tomato halves, pressing down slightly on the filling. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake until filling puffs and browns and tomatoes just start to split, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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