I had a flat of big meaty field tomatoes in my trunk, fixing to spoil, when my battery died again….the car’s, not mine. One junior farmer, one good friend, the Wild Oat’s walk-in fridge, a new battery installed by the good friend and me (la di da) , along with the goodwill of several others. The result? An international body of artists in retreat on whisper-quiet land in Poltimore, Quebec will have their stuffed tomatoes, Chez Eric style, for dinner. Chez Eric from the days of Rosanda, Clare and me running the ship. Brad Robinson, resident food-grower, stuff-fixer, and just general guardian of the cafe and land around, would bring in a “few things from the garden” for my dinner prep. The few things in August and September often included a glut of tomatoes, and this was a favourite to be served as side dish or main.
Large and not perfect tomatoes
Caramelized onion or minced scallion
Leftover rice or quinoa
Some cooked lentils or bits of sausage or bacon (you get the idea)
Mushrooms are nice too (saute first)
Leftover corn, chopped green beans….it goes on
Stock if you have it
A splash of the wine you didn’t finish last night, or beer, or cider
Crushed pumpkin seeds, or not
1. Set the oven to 375 F.
2. Wash the tomatoes and remove the tough fibrous bits from the top.
3. Cut the top third off and reserve (these rounds will have the donut hole).
4. Gently scoop the insides of the tomatoes onto a cutting board and chop up the meat.
5. Mix the tomato innards with your favourite protein, mushrooms, onions or scallions, and rice or quinoa (leftover polenta is very good too).
6. Add a little stock, wine or beer, chopped herbs, salt and pepper, olive oil.
7. Pierce the tomatoes a few times so they don’t burst in the oven, but they’re fabulous even if they do (support staff prayed one or two would do just that, knowing that I would only plate the ones that remained intact).
8. Set them in an oiled, heavy casserole or large pan.
9. Pour a little more wine or beer around the tomatoes.
10. Top each tomato with cheese and crushed pumpkin seeds.
11. Dust with salt and pepper.
Bake until the tomatoes are soft and beginning to collapse, the cheese and pumpkin seeds are becoming golden brown, and they are smelling ridiculous!
I often served them on wilted greens with toast points.
|Susan is a culinary arts instructor, Cordon Bleu- trained chef, and back-to-the-dirt food activist in the Ottawa/Outaouais region.|
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