Monday, April 15, 2013

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

 photo 2BAF7DEB-CFD1-4809-8C66-EAA62FAABBC6-139-0000003672F60070_zps51057762.jpg
Tomatoes aren't just for salads – they make a wonderful side dish when stuffed and baked.  There's many types of stuffing mixtures, so you could possibly never make them the same way twice.  

But the basics include  scooping out the insides of tomatoes and using the pulp mixed with minced garlic, herbs, cheese, diced onions and some type of other filler such as cooked rice, meat, croutons, or bread crumbs.

I recently needed a quick side dish and had medium size tomatoes on hand so improvised with ingredients on hand.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
4 medium to large tomatoes
4 oz. bulk sausage, minced fine
2 Tabs. butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. mixed Italian spice blend or fresh chopped herbs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheese of choice, Cheddar or Parmesan, and extra for topping

Stuffed Tomatoes photo C5844A34-0157-4858-A551-467FA5E33BDA-139-0000003661A523C7_zps47b47265.jpgHeat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat baking dish or pan with cooking spray.  Slice tops off tomatoes enough to create an opening at the top.  Use a spoon or melon ball scoop to hollow out insides of each tomato. 

Save top slice for topping tomatoes or use for the filling.  Arrange tomatoes in a prepared baking dish. Place scooped out insides in a bowl and add bread crumbs and cheese, then set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned about 5 minutes..  Add the butter, onion celery and garlic, cooking until onion is soft.  Add spices and herbs and cook another 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Add cooked ingredients to bowl and combine filling ingredients.  Fill hollowed out tomatoes. If desired top each with cut off top slice.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are soften and the top of the stuffing looks toasted.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Serves 4.

Estimated Cost: varies with seasonal price of tomatoes, under $2.00 for a pound. 4 servings should cost around .75 cents a serving or less.