Monday, April 27, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes

This is a recipe my wife and I discovered when toying with veganism (which was ultimately a failure - although we did pick up some good additional food.) Anyway, it was nice enough that it's been kept around and we still make it from time to time. The original recipe has you bake it in the oven, which is good...but to take it to a whole new level I highly recommend doing this over charcoal with some hickory wood chips for extra flavor. If you take the BBQ approach you don't want terribly hot coals, so either cook something else first or don't place the tomatoes over direct heat.

  • 1/2 cup of orzo pasta (the small stuff that looks like rice)
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes (such as beefsteak)
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts, briefly toasted in hot skillet
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped basil leaves

Cook the orzo according to instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water till chilled so it will keep without sticking together.

Whilst the orzo is cooking, slice the top off each of the tomatoes and then scoop out the insides using a spoon. Chop the tomato pulp and place it in a mixing bowl. Add the pine nuts, orzo, garlic, parsley and basil. Season with some salt and black pepper then mix well.

Stuff each of the tomatoes with the mixture, top with previously removed slice and drizzle with some olive oil.

If cooking in an oven, have it preheated to 375 degrees F, place on a foil covered baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. If cooking on the BBQ, use your skill and judgment... :-)

Once cooked, serve with a generous amount of yellow pepper coulis which can be made as follows: fry one chopped onion and 3 chopped yellow bell peppers in a little olive oil. After 5 minutes add half a cup of water and some salt and pepper. Simmer until very soft, perhaps 15 - 20 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When done puree in a blender.

Gazpacho Soup

I really like this soup, the flavors are amazing. Truly one of those things where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Also, the fact that everything in it is raw (besides the bread) still strikes me as some kind of magic.
  • About 2lbs very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large English-style cucumber, peeled and diced
  • Half a baguette - a little stale is considered better. For those avoiding white flour I've used wholewheat bread too and it seems OK.
  • 1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and and chopped reasonably small
  • 1 cup (a little under half a UK pint) extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 scallions (spring onions) roughly chopped
  • 1 - 4 gloves garlic (how much do you like garlic?), roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste (probably 1/2 - 1 tsp salt is what you want)
  • 1 pint or less water

Tear the bread into small pieces and leave to soak in 1 cup of water. Immerse the tomatoes in just-boiled water briefly and then "encourage" the skins to split after a few seconds with a sharp knife. Pull them out of the water and remove skins. Chop tomatoes, removing seeds first.

Place chopped tomatoes into a large bowl along with the pepper, cucumber, scallions, garlic, bread and olive oil; stir to combine. Add the white wine vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper. Lastly add remaining water (1 cup). Stir again to fully combine.

Now transfer the contents of the bowl to a blender - you may need to do this in two or three batches due to the volume. Puree the mixture.

Obviously you can use more or less water depending on the consistency you prefer.

Once blended the soup should be chilled in the fridge for at least an hour. This also allows the flavors to really develop too.

To serve you can add a garnish of avocado cubes, diced red peppers, sprinkle of paprika etc.