Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cooking Floyd: Herb Stuffed Tomatoes

All things tomato are happening now.  I've made tomato lime salsa which yielded a bonus of some tasty tomato juice.  I did one batch of tomato paste and have another reducing as we speak.  I did 7 pints of diced Italian herbed tomatoes and along those lines we had Herb Stuffed Tomatoes on a bed of pasta for dinner last night.  I've been yearning for this since early last December because there's just no other way to make it than with fresh herbs, alliums, and warm tomatoes straight from the garden!

Even having had a good day at the market I brought herbs home.  These went into supper and the diced tomatoes I canned.

There's no measuring and no real ingredients list to this recipe.  It's all about the best fresh stuff you can lay your hands on.  Use all, some, or showcase just one herb with the very best tomatoes you can get.  I had an assortment of herbs, shallots and garlic recently harvested, and our wonderful Smokey heirloom tomatoes.

Finely dice some garlic,
and shallots.
Chop some basil,
and chives.
Add a bit of french tarragon,
a bit of cutting celery,
a bit of sage,
and a bit of rosemary.
Tarragon, cutting celery, sage, and rosemary are all assertive herbs so when using them in a mix it's good to use just small amounts of them.

Toss the herbs, shallots, and garlic together in a bowl and add a generous amount of plain bread crumbs (enough to stretch the herbs to stuff the number of tomatoes you'll prepare) and a good handful of shaved or grated parmesan.  Or as much parma as you like.  Salt and pepper to taste, mix it all up, drizzle with enough olive oil to dampen.
Wash your tomatoes and remove a thin slice from the bottom so they stand in the pan.  Insert your knife straight in at the stem end and remove the core, leaving a good space for stuffing.
Place the tomatoes in a casserole and firmly stuff with the herb/cheese mix.  Allow some of the stuffing to dribble over into the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle with some more olive oil.
Roast in a 350F oven until the skins are wrinkly and the tomatoes are beginning to sag.  Cook your choice of pasta to desired bite and drain (I really like homemade fresh linguine with this).

Carefully remove the tomatoes from the casserole to another plate.  Pour the drained pasta into the casserole and toss in the juices and herb/cheese mixture left in the bottom of the casserole.  Portion the pasta onto dinner plates and top each portion with a tomato.  Garnish with a bit of shaved parmesan.
For me the wondrousness of this dish happens when the tomato is cut into pieces and then mixed with the pasta.  The stuffing combines with the tomato's own juices and the olive oil to create the freshest sauce possible right there before your eyes on your very own plate.  Definitely worth waiting for!

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