As the weather turns a little cooler in the fall, it’s a great time to take advantage of the continuing tomato harvest for some delicious baked tomato dishes. Pair with steamed green beans or sauteed chard for a very satisfying meal on a chilly fall evening.
- 6 large not-too-ripe tomatoes (about 10 ounces each; 3 1/2 pounds total)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons potato starch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 5 ounces mushrooms, washed, cubed, and coarsely chopped in a food processor (about 2 cups)
- 2 small firm zucchini (8 ounces total), cubed and coarsely chopped in the food processor (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or minced chives, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces hot Italian sausage patties, bulk Italian sausage, or links, casings removed
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the stems of the tomatoes, if any, and reserve for decoration. Cut a thick slice (about 3/4 inch) from the stem end of each tomato. Using a sharp spoon (a metal measuring spoon is good), hollow out each tomato to make a receptacle, leaving a 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick shell.
- Process the slices and insides of the tomatoes in a food processor. (You should have about 3 cups; if you have more, keep the excess for a soup or sauce.) Transfer to a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the olive oil, and potato starch, and mix well with a whisk.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it comes to a boil. Strain through a food mill or sieve. Set aside.
- Combine the mushrooms, zucchini, onion, garlic, parsley, jalapeno pepper, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper, ground beef, and sausage in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Arrange the tomato receptacles side by side, hollow side up, in a large gratin dish and fill with the stuffing mix (about 1 cup per tomato). Place the stems, if you have them, on top for decoration. Pour the sauce around and over the tomatoes.
- Bake the tomatoes for 1 hour. Serve with some of the sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley or chives. Makes 6 servings.
Cook’s Note: You can use any type of ground meat in this recipe — beef, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage, or bison. If not using something like the sausage, be sure to season your meat accordingly for flavor. Think of it as a mini-meatloaf inside a tomato.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
- 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
- Good olive oil
- 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
- 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Sirocco Ridge chevre with chives)
- 1 large tomato, cut into four 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
- Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch-wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
- Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
- Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need a few extra minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm. Makes 4 tarts.
Don’t forget to enjoy sauce made from fresh tomatoes in the fall.