Tomatoes are packed with seasonal produce like yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper, for a ratatouille-like melange of summer flavors. [Photograph: Oliver Parini]

Tomatoes are still abundant this time of year in California. They’re mostly big meaty specimens, taut with sweet juice. The fruit is wonderful on its own, but sometimes I want to eat something other than a tomato salad or mayonnaise-laden sandwich. Tracey Medeiros offers an easy stuffed tomato recipe in her new book, The Vermont Table Cookbook. Instead of stuffing the tomatoes with a meat or bread-based stuffing, this recipe from Your Farm suggests filling them with other seasonal produce like yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper. The vegetables all mingle together inside fat Brandywines to make a ratatouille-like melange of summer flavors.

Why I picked this recipe: How could I resist tasting the great vegetables of summer, all packaged together in a neat tomato bowl.

What worked: The combination of vegetables, garlic, basil, and cheese can’t be beat, no matter how they’re combined.

What didn’t: I ended up carving out more of the tomato flesh than written in the recipe so that I’d have room to stuff all the vegetables.

Suggested tweaks: You could go crazy here with the vegetable filling and use whatever you’ve got, but be sure to sauté the filling until the vegetables have just softened. The tomatoes don’t spend much time baking, so don’t rely on the oven to cook the filling. You can also use tomatoes other than Brandywine; if they’re on the smaller side, you’ll want to use more than four in order to use up the filling.

Reprinted with permission from The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook by Tracey Medeiros. Copyright 2013. Published by The Countryman Press. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Ingredients

serves Serves 4, active time 30 minutes, total time 45 minutes

  • 4 large Brandywine tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow summer squash
  • 3/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3/4 cup chopped, peeled eggplant
  • 3/4 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Procedures

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Cut out and discard a cone-shaped section from the stem end of each tomato, being careful not to go all the way through. Place the tomatoes cut side up in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

  3. In a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the garlic, the chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brush the tomatoes with garlic oil mixture, completely coating each one.

  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, pepper, and the remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and spoon the vegetable mixture into each tomato until heaping full. Scatter any extra filling around the tomatoes. Drizzle the remaining garlic-oil mixture over the stuffed tomatoes and top each tomato with 1 slice mozzarella.

  5. Bake the tomatoes until they are slightly softened and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with the chopped basil and serve.

  6. Variation: Add 8 ounces ground beef or lamb, cooked, to the stuffing mixture and serve the tomatoes on a bed of pasta.

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