Cheap Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes

25 Sep

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Overripened produce is ideal for this simple and hearty dish!

Overripened produce is ideal for this simple and hearty dish!

With bumper crops overrunning my parents’ fields this month, we’ve been up to our ears in fresh tommy-toes. When a sack of ripe beefsteak tomatoes from my mom was accidentally forgotten in one of our fridge’s crisper bins for over a week, I knew I had to serve them the same night I discovered them or pitch the whole batch.

Luckily, a quick scan of the refrigerator also revealed another forgotten acquisition: a couple of logs of fresh mozzarella I’d bought on sale at ALDI without even having any idea how to properly use or prepare the cheese in its fresh, curdlike form.

I decided the two ingredients seemed like natural companions, and gave it a go with this dish, which turned out to be one of the tastiest recipes I’ve aimlessly created in months.

Begin by preheating oven to 375 degrees. Take 4 large tomatoes (beefsteak variety works well because they are wide, squatty and don’t fall over) and remove stems. Core out the center flesh

These large, flat tomatoes begged to be stuffed!

These large, flat tomatoes begged to be stuffed!

 and seeds with a metal spoon or small paring knife.

Chef’s Note: The more overripe the tomatoes are, the better they are for stuffing, because if the middles are too firm, it’s harder to scoop IMG_4207out the flesh without accidentally puncturing through to the outside somewhere. Expiring tomatoes have more “give” to the flesh and are more flexible in this capacity.

Place the 4 cored tomatoes in a glass baking dish, making sure all will stand up on their own. Next, take 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese and cut into quarters. Stand a cheese wedge up in the center of each

I ended up only using one of these 8-oz. packages of fresh mozzarella instead of two.

I ended up only using one of these 8-oz. packages of fresh mozzarella instead of two.

tomato. (If you have to use shredded mozzarella, that’s fine too–just sprinkle about 2 ounces down inside each tomato hole.)

Drain a small can of mushroom pieces & stems and sprinkle mushroom bits around each cheese wedge (inside the tomatoes).

2 ounces of cheese and about an ounce of mushrooms per tomato is just about perfect.

2 ounces of cheese and about an ounce of mushrooms per tomato is just about perfect.

Next, pour about 1/3 cup spaghetti sauce over each tomato center (for a total of about 1-1/3 cups sauce needed), being sure to allow some to drip down inside and some to cover the tomato tops. Sprinkle tomatoes with parmesan cheese or garnish to taste.

Half a jar of generic pasta sauce (about 50 cents' worth) was plenty.

Half a jar of generic pasta sauce (about 50 cents' worth) was plenty.

Bake tomatoes for approximately 25-30 minutes or until all filling has had time to heat. (If you’re working with solid mozzarella that has come straight out of the refrigerator it will take longer than you might think to thoroughly heat and melt inside the tomatoes.)

IMG_4212

A little Parmesan and these babies will be oven-ready.

Remove from oven. I tried using several utensils to serve the tomatoes from the dish into bowls before discovering that a large, curved meat fork works best. Do not be tempted to use tongs! This went horribly wrong for me! 🙂 The serving fork did a nice job, though, of supporting the tomato underneath without causing the sides to cave in.

IMG_4215

Don't look--this one's cheese is showing a little...

Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers to be reheated one-at-a-time in the microwave later.

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2 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes”

  1. Linda September 25, 2009 at 9:48 PM #

    What do you do with the tomato pulp that you scooped out?

  2. Gracie September 28, 2009 at 10:28 AM #

    Well, as I am a gigantic pig, I sprinkled some leftover shredded colby on the pulp in a bowl and ate it while I waited for the real dinner to get done cooking. Geez, I am a fatty.

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