See that tomato? That’s a happy tomato, because it’s stuffed. Have you ever met a stuffed food that seemed even the least bit unhappy? Let’s explore this for a moment. I know of a stuffed meatloaf that literally (okay, figuratively) smiles when you slice into it. Ditto dual-animal hot wings. Both those two aren’t innately vehicles for their stuffing. Not like tomatoes.
Now I realize the red devils are as out of season as it gets, but several accounts of unmitigated food porn in recent memory have me craving stuffed tomatoes like they’re still in style. Oh wait, they can be. You simply have to make it so. I implore you, locate the ripest tomato this relatively mild winter can muster up, ripen it a little more on a windowsill, then hollow that thing out, sprinkle it with salt and make it look good. Allow me to guide you.
- Dig our variations on the classic caprese? So far I’ve had great success with the smoked version. Soothe your winter blues with stuffed caprese: load that tomato with burrata — that highly addictive cream-filled, stringy mozzarella — stick a meaty sprig of basil in the top, douse with the most virgin olive oil you can find, finish with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and eat with a knife, fork and hunk of bread. If you can’t find burrata, look harder, it’s worth it. But fresh mozzarella or even ricotta will do the trick.
- Not to bring up chicken salad again but…chicken salad (and its many variations).
- You can stuff a grape leaf if you want to practice your…uh…rolling skills. Or you can make the filling and easily spoon it into a tomato, top it with a little feta and have yourself a crazy Greek lunch party.
- Adding cauliflower puree to mac and cheese to make it “healthy”: boring. Stuffing awesome, creamy mac and cheese with nothing to hide in a tomato to make it healthy: awesome. Sorry, cute individual ramekins.
And any of these (with the exception of caprese) can be broiled for a few minutes if you prefer yours al dente. It’s a great, healthy lunch option if you’re craving something delicious and don’t want to feel like a stuffed tomato.