Tomatoes Stuffed with Couscous

Tomatoes-Stuffed-with-Couscous-015-EditThis dish is wonderful served as a vegetable side dish or as a light lunch entree. Brushing the inside of the tomato shell with Tabasco adds a robust hint of the Southwest.

1 cup regular couscous
6 large firm, ripe, red tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring to a boil 2 cups water in a medium-size saucepan. Add couscous and stir. Boil again, lower heat and cover. Simmer until all water has been absorbed. Stir to fluff, remove from heat and allow to stand 5 minutes. Cool in refrigerator.

Cut a 1/2-inch slice off the top of each tomato from the stem end. Discard seeds, remove pulp with a spoon, and chop pulp into small pieces. Set pulp aside for the filling. Lightly sprinkle tomato shell with salt and place upside down on a cookie sheet for approximately 10 minutes to drain its liquid. Mix together olive oil, Tabasco sauce, and garlic. Turn tomato shells upright and drizzle them with olive oil mixture.

When couscous is cold, toss green, orange and red peppers, green onions, parsley, and mint together with couscous. Add reserved tomato pulp, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss again and taste for seasoning. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato to keep them from rolling. Spoon filling into each prepared tomato shell. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve.

Serves 6


Tomato, Garlic, Crouton and Pesto Omelet

PestoOmeletteOmelets are fast and satisfying, as good at lunch and dinner as they are at breakfast. Here’s one that celebrates the flavors of the Mediterranean in every forkful. Serve with home fries or at dinner with a small serving of seafood.

4 slices sturdy white or whole-wheat bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large or extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon water
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought pesto
1/2 large Florida Tomato, cut into bite-size chunks

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the bread into cubes and toss with the oil and garlic in a bowl. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them for 15 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool.

When you’re ready to make the omelet, have all the ingredients nearby. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add the water and salt, and beat lightly.

Place a nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. When it starts to sizzle, add the eggs. Stir the eggs with a fork in a circular motion. When the eggs start to set and form curds, spread them out evenly across the bottom of the pan. Immediately turn the heat to very low.

Wait a few more seconds and, when the top layer of egg is almost entirely set, sprinkle the cheese over the surface. Dot the surface with the pesto. Scatter the tomatoes and a handful of the croutons over half of the omelet and fold the other half over the filled side. Slide the omelet out of the pan and serve at once.

YIELD: 1 serving


Tomato Wedges with Minted Sweet Onions

WedgesSweetMincedOnionsWhat a delightful surprise to savor and so simple to prepare. This dish can be used as a condiment, side salad, or a topping for sandwiches.

20 medium fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 cup olive oil
1 cup rice wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium sweet onions, sliced
4 firm, ripe Florida tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 T. Italian parsley, finely chopped

Blend the mint, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste together for 30 seconds in the blender. In a bowl, pour the marinade over the onions; set aside for about 1 hour.

Arrange the tomatoes in a shallow serving dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and lay the onions on top.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve at room temperature.

Serves 6


Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato-Sandwich-015-EditThese delicious treats are deceptively simple. Serve them as a light lunch or versatile side dish.

1/2 cup mayonnaise or whipped cream cheese
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6-8 small arugula leaves, washed & patted dry
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs, unflavored, toasted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Slice each tomato to obtain 1/2-inch thick slices from the widest portion of the tomato, making sure to avoid the core.

Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise on one half of the tomato slices. Top each with an onion slice, arugula leaf and a second slice of tomato.

Dip each sandwich into the beaten egg mixture and then the bread crumbs. Gently shake off any excess bread crumbs. Set sandwiches aside.

In a large heavy sauté pan, warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Slip each sandwich into the pan and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove and serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8


Tomato Parmesan Corn Bread

tomatoParmesanCornWith hearty stews, soups, or a big antipasto salad, this tomato-flecked corn bread is sure to please. Serve leftover corn bread for breakfast – halved, buttered, grilled, and topped with scrambled eggs.

1 large Florida tomato, cored and halved crosswise
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Using your finger, push the seeds and surrounding liquid out of the tomato. Dice the tomato and set it aside in a strainer to drain.

Gently melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and herbs. In a separate bowl, blend the eggs, milk, and yogurt. Pour the melted butter into the liquid, but leave a heavy coating of butter in the pan.

Make a well in the dry mixture and add the liquid. Stir briskly to blend, then fold in the diced tomato. Turn the batter into the buttered skillet and bake for 25 minutes, until the surface is light golden. The top should resist gentle finger pressure. Let stand for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

YIELD: 8 servings


Tomato and Tortellini Toss

TomatoTortelliniIn 15 minutes you can turn a handful of convenience items into a colorful main course, accented with a generous helping of fresh Florida tomato chunks. Serve with hot garlic bread and simple tossed salad.

2 to 3 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
1 9-ounce package (about 2-1/2 to 3 cups) meat or cheese tortellini
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
2 large Florida tomatoes, cored, quartered, and cut into large bite-size chunks
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese for garnish

In a small saucepan, steam the broccoli for about 5 to 6 minutes, until it is just tender-crisp. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until done according to the package instructions. Drain and toss with the broccoli and pesto until thoroughly coated.

Add the tomatoes and toss briefly. Pepper the dish and serve at once, garnish with the feta cheese.

YIELD: 4 servings


Tomato and Potato Casserole

TomatoPotatoCasseroleLayers of potatoes simmer gently between layers of tomatoes in this aromatic main dish. The semolina helps to thicken the juice thrown off by the tomatoes, leaving a broth with lots of body and flavor.

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons semolina
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
4 large Florida tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 to 8 medium-size all-purpose potatoes, very thinly sliced
1 small onion, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a deep 10-inch round casserole or gratin dish. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, semolina, and oregano and set aside.

To assemble, put a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of the casserole, Salt and pepper lightly, then cover with about 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan mixture. Put a layer of slightly overlapping potatoes on top of the tomatoes. Salt and pepper lightly and sprinkle with minced onion. Continue this layering, ending with the tomatoes and cheese mixture.

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover, then let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings


Tomato and Onion Tart

Tomato-Onion-Tart-009-EditRed, ripe tomato slices bring fresh flavor and bright color to this tart.

9-inch removable bottom tart pan
1 sheet packaged 9-inch pie dough
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red onions (about 1-1/2 lbs.) thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
3 large firm, ripe, red tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch. Carefully ease dough into tart pan and gently press it into bottom and up sides of pan. Trim off all but 1 inch of excess. Fold overhang back into pan and press firmly against sides, this will create a double layer of dough which will reinforce the sides of the shell. Line pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until pastry is nearly done. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, add onions, and cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook until onions are golden and liquid has evaporated. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

Combine eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan Cheese, garlic, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of the thyme in a medium-size bowl. Whisk until well blended.

Spread cheese mixture over dough. Spread onion mixture over cheese. Arrange tomato slices in concentric circles over onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the remaining olive oil and thyme together and brush over tomatoes.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Serves 4


Tomato and Garlic Baked Stuffed Potatoes

tomatobakedpotatoGarlicky tomato chunks add a fresh new twist to an old favorite, baked stuffed potatoes. To make these extra- generous, we bake 2 extra potatoes and use their flesh in the stuffing.

8 extra-large baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 large fresh Florida tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into bite-size chunks
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bake the potatoes until the flesh is tender. Slice the potatoes lengthwise and cool briefly. When they’re cool enough to handle, spoon the flesh into a bowl, leaving a thick enough casing to support the filling. Reserve the 6 best casings.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium-size skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat, stirring, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onion is golden brown. Stir in the garlic, sauté for another minute, then remove from the heat and scrape into a bowl.

Put the skillet back on the heat. Add the tomatoes and sauté them for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat, just until they start to soften. Stir in the vinegar, cook for a few more seconds, then transfer to the bowl with the onions. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a potato masher, mash the potato flesh with the sour cream, leaving it a little on the chunky side. Add the Parmesan cheese, then fold in the reserved tomato mixture. Salt and pepper the stuffing to taste, then pack it into the reserved skins, dividing it equally.

Bake the tomatoes for about 25 to 30 minutes, until heated through. Serve hot.

YIELD: 6 servings


Tomato and Bulgur Salad

tomato_bulgur_salad-014-Edit2 medium fresh Florida tomatoes
½ cup bulgur (uncooked)
1 cup chopped mild onion
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup homemade or prepared Italian salad dressing
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)

Use tomatoes held at room temperature until fully ripe. Core tomatoes; cut in 1-inch chunks; set aside. In medium heat-proof bowl put bulgur and 1 cup boiling water. Let stand until bulgur is softened; about 15 minutes. Drain off any remaining water; return bulgur to bowl. Stir in onion, parsley, dressing, garlic, salt, coriander and pepper. Toss to mix. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Yield: 4 portions (4 cups)