This past week was the first appearance of gorgeous looking tomatoes at my Farmers Market. No, they're not heirloom varieties yet, just cluster vine tomatoes for now. However, they were beautiful; so red and plump! After seeing the queue at the tomato booth, I'm thinking I should abandon this baking career and go into early season tomato farming. Shoppers were lined up 20 deep for these beauties. As lovely as they looked, I was still skeptical about flavor. It is only early April after all. To my delght they they were incredibly sweet and flavorful. They also just happened to be the perfect size and shape for stuffing.
I decided to fill them with a quinoa and vegetable mixture including spring onions, chard, zucchini, and pine nuts. I also added Piave cheese to the filling which I love for its intensity and nuttiness. Piave is a hard, cow's milk cheese from the northern Veneto region of Italy. If you can't find Piave, you can substitute a good quality Asiago or Parmigiano here.
I would highly recommend you give this recipe a try. It's really easy and delicious. Even with the quinoa filling though, we did find them to be a little light as a main course. However, they would be great alongside any simply grilled protein or with a hearty side salad like my Spring Panzanella. To maintain the shape of the tomatoes while roasting be sure to really pack the filling inside which sort of props up the sides while they bake.
Roasted Tomatoes with Quinoa Stuffing:
Yields 8 servings as a side dish, 4 as a main course
8 medium vine ripened tomatoes
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
3 medium spring onions, diced into 1" pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 medium bunch chard, stems removed, and roughly chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced into 1" pieces
1 TB fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
5 TB olive oil
1/2 cup Piave cheese, grated (or Asiago)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish with olive oil.
2) In a small saucepan, combine the vegetable stock and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the quinoa is fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, heat 2 TB olive oil in a saute pan. Add the spring onions and the zucchini and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chard, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and continue cooking until the chard is wilted and the vegetables are tender, about 2-3 minutes more. Combine the cooked quinoa, the vegetables, the grated Piave, and the toasted pine nuts in a large bowl. Stir to combine and season with salt & pepper to taste.
4) To prepare the tomatoes, slice off the tops and reserve. Hollow out the cavities with a paring knife. Scoop out the seeds and the ribs, and discard. Fill each hollow tomato with 1/4 - 1/3 cup of quinoa filling, depending on the size of the tomato. Repeat with all 8 tomatoes and place in the prepared baking dish. Place the reserved tops back on the filled tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil.
5) Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake until tomato skin is blistered and tomatoes are tender, yet still hold their shape, about 25-35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.