Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

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Sunday dinner.  The phrase conjures up images of grandmothers in aprons serving roasts on china platters, doesn’t it?  Growing up, we ate dinner at my grandparents’ house on many Sunday nights and whether dinner was of the roast-and-china variety or was more casual, my grandmother’s table was always warm and welcoming and full of love.   To this day, I love the idea of family coming together once a week for Sunday dinners.  Of course, having given up red meat ten years ago, and having moved hundreds of miles away to another state six years ago, I don’t do the whole big-family-eating-beef-around-the-table thing anymore.  But I do try to put a little bit of extra effort into Sunday dinners, because I have the time and because I like to reserve Sunday evening for my family (which is just my husband and I, most nights) to sit at the table, light candles, and relax together, or to pop in a DVD (tonight, it was “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn) before we jump back into the rat race for the coming week.

Today, driving home from our long holiday weekend, I had a six hour car ride in which to mull over dinner ideas.  I came up with the idea of stuffed tomatoes with a crispy Italian-seasoned breadcrumb and Parmesan crust.  Stopping at Whole Foods on the way home, I found gorgeous heirloom tomatoes in the produce section – fate smiling on me!  This is the result…

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Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

4 vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes (small to medium sized)
1 lb ground turkey or chicken sausage
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded
1 tablespoon ketchup
salt and pepper (approx. 1 teaspoon of each)
extra-virgin olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Core tomatoes and remove seeds.  Cut off a small slice from the bottom of each tomato (for stability) and stand tomatoes in a shallow baking dish.
  • Remove sausage from casings and combine with egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and half the chiffonaded basil.  Season with salt and pepper and stir gently until just mixed.  Add mixture to hollowed-out tomatoes.
  • Combine remaining breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top of each stuffed tomato.  Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over top.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.

This dish is quick and simple enough to make on a weeknight – in fact, I do something very similar with bell peppers, a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis, and it’s one of my favorite weeknight meals.  But it hits the spot on Sunday too, and served with a simple green salad, it makes a light but flavorful finish to the weekend.  In fact, since this dish is made with chicken or turkey rather than beef or pork, it’s healthy enough to justify dessert – maybe a peach and blueberry crumble?  Sunday dinner.  Think about it.

Note: This recipe makes double the amount of meat you need for four tomatoes.  You can either stuff eight tomatoes and feed 4-6 people on them, or reserve the remaining meat for another use – I made mini meatballs for tomorrow night.

Source: Covered In Flour, inspired by Giada de Laurentiis

And a bonus picture – the new view from my kitchen island, thanks to the incredibly talented artist Amy Giacomelli

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