As a meat-eater myself, I find that the trick to meatless mealmaking is to have a small repertoire of recipes that can work as a side dish or first course, or be eaten in larger quantities as a vegetarian main dish. This is the same strategy I use when hosting a vegetarian in my home.
Today’s Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes fits the bill perfectly. Serve one tomato as a tasty and toothsome side along some roasted chicken or sliced beef tenderloin, or double up for a vegetarian meal that will fill you up, even if you aren’t vegetarian. These tomatoes can be made in advance, so they are equally brilliant for both company dinners and weeknight family suppers.
Tomatoes, a culinary favorite source of lycopene, are stuffed with quinoa and sauteed eggplant and mushrooms, both hefty, meaty vegetables. But, swap out the quinoa for brown rice, and use whatever veggies you find in the crisper drawer, or even in your freezer. Baking tomatoes is an excellent strategy for using up the less-than-perfectly-sweet ones that winter can bring. A big bonus: roasted tomatoes are simply gorgeous, appealing to our farm-totable sensibilities.
While I don’t think you’ll miss the meat, if you must, feel free to add in a little cooked ground meat right into the filling. Either way, you’ll have a healthy and hearty dish that is a nice change from the classic stuffed pepper. And as for the pulpy, fleshy middle of the tomato that you’ll remove to stuff it: don’t throw it out! Blend it up – juice and seeds and all – with a little garlic and onion and then mix it into your next tomato-based pasta sauce, or use it as part of your liquid next time you make rice.
Start to finish: 1 hour, including
inactive cooking time
8 medium sized tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
(about 3/4 cup)
1 small eggplant, cut into small
dice (1/2 inch), about 2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup roughly chopped or
sliced white mushrooms
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh
1-1/2 cup cooked quinoa or
1/ 4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice
off the top of each tomato, reserving the tops.
Run a paring knife around the
inner rim of the tomato, loosening
up the flesh on the inside of the tomato. Use a small spoon and scoop
out the flesh, juice and seeds of the
tomato. (Either discard or pulse in
blender to use in a tomato sauce.)
Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with half the salt and set
aside. In a large saute pan, cook
the onion and eggplant in the olive
oil over medium high heat until
vegetables start to soften, about 8
minutes, stirring frequently. Add
the garlic and mushrooms and
cook until mushrooms soften,
about 5 more minutes.
Pour in the wine and stir to let
it evaporate. Add the basil, quinoa,
remaining salt and pepper and
turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Gently spoon the
filling into the empty tomatoes,
and top each one with a reserved
Place the tomatoes in a baking
dish sprayed with a little olive oil
from a mister (or nonstick spray).
Mist the tomatoes with a quick
spray of olive oil from a mister.
Cover the dish with an oven-safe
lid or foil. Bake until the tomatoes
are tender and quinoa mixture is
hot, about 35-40 minutes.
Chef’s Note: The recipe works
well with up to a half pound of
cooked ground meat added to the
filling if desired. Tip: Crinkle up
foil into a ball if you need to secure
tomatoes in baking dish so they
don’t slide around.
Nutrition information per
serving: 115 calories; 26 calories
from fat; 3 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g
trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 176
mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 5
g fiber; 6 g sugar; 5 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa
d’Arabian is an expert on healthy
eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket