Stuffed tomato: eating above my pay grade

Real food tomato, locally grown photo
Locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes available far ahead of tomato season.

From May to July in my “more winter than summer” city, we can get vine-ripened, local greenhouse, grown-in-earth tomatoes. After the long hiatus from great tomatoes, I tend to buy them wherever I find them, as they are not available everywhere.

In my zeal, however, I managed to gather far too many. Using tomatoes in everything wasn’t getting the job done, so lunch today had to feature tomato as the main event. The result was stuffed tomato salad, and was so good, I may need to buy more.

I cut the core from a large tomato, then sliced off the rounded part of the top. Using a small, sharp knife, I cut the pulp from the sides. With a spoon, I scooped the seeds and pulp into a small bowl, leaving a sturdy shell. Hint: If your tomato does not sit straight, cut tiny slices from the bottom to level. Be careful not to cut through the bottom of the shell.

Real food tomato, cutting the pulp photo
Cutting the pulp from a fresh tomato to create a shell. The top part of the tomato, shown to the right, is chopped into the filling.

Real food tomato shell image
The tomato shell with the pulp removed. Any ingredients can be combined to make a filling, but the tomato pulp is always the base.
Tomato pulp and juice photo
Tomato pulp in the left bowl, after pouring off extra juice, right. Click the photo to see both bowls.

Before chopping the tomato bits, or adding other ingredients, I poured off the extra liquid into a tiny bowl, some of which I used later. I chopped the dry tomato pulp, plus the cut-off top part, and added one chopped green onion, one chopped mushroom, one strip of roasted red pepper (fresh would work) and avocado (see keeping avocado fresh). Finally, one small clove of garlic, finely chopped and chopped fresh basil and oregano (dried would work).

Borrowing from the classic, Italian Bread Salad, I toasted a small piece of harvest grain bread, and cut it into small cubes.

As dressing, I added one teaspoon of light mayonnaise, and one teaspoon of light sour cream. Once it was all mixed, I decided it was a little dry, and used a bit of the reserved tomato juice. (Put the rest in the refrigerator  —   a little fresh tomato juice can be added to almost anything.)

Real food stuffed tomato photo
Fresh stuffed tomato on a bed of mixed lettuce greens. It's hard to imagine the flavor in this dish. Try it.

The hardest part was getting the mixture into the tomato (you could serve any extra on the lettuce bed). Before I declared my creation complete, I noticed the crumbs on the cutting board from cubing the bread, added a bit of salt and pepper and sprinkled the “topping” over the tomato.

I didn’t need dressing on the lettuce, as there was more than enough moisture and flavor in the tomato filling to dress the salad.

This lunch took a bit of time as I was creating something new, but the next time I make it, I’m sure it will be a ten-minute lunch. I also want to try this with a chicken breast or steak. In fact, I might use more lettuce and arrange warm, sliced meat over the salad. Think of your own variations. With the nutritional punch that tomatoes offer, and tomato season just around the corner, keep this idea in mind.

One thing I know for sure: I could not afford to eat in any restaurant that would serve this dish.




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