Friday, November 2, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes

A good juicy tomato in the middle of the summer is one of life's greatest pleasures.  Where I was raise, July 4th is the standard time when the locally grown tomatoes really into their own with deliciousness!
We will eat them until we have successfully had tomatoes with every single meal of the day.

They are that good!

For my mother's birthday, which is in August (a little behind in posting this one...sorry!) we decided to make these as side to her feast.  How could we not incorporate tomatoes into the meal especially during that time of the year?  I mean after all, tomatoes aren't just for salads anymore!

Stuffed Tomatoes with Spinach, Mushrooms and Cheese
8 large beef tomatoes
handful of dried porcini
olive oil, for frying
2 ccups spinach
8 flat mushrooms, sliced into rough cubes
1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprig thyme, stalks removed, leaves finely chopped
1 lemon, juice only
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg yolk, beaten
black pepper
For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon French mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
small handful basil

Blanch the tomatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a perforated spoon, leaving the water still boiling in the pan. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl of iced water and set side. 
Add the dried porcini mushrooms to the still-boiling water, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave the mushrooms in the pan to soak.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan set over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Tip into a sieve set over a bowl, and press out all the moisture with the back of a wooden spoon. Tip the spinach on to a board and finely chop. Put in a large bowl and set aside. 
Using a perforated spoon, gently remove the porcini mushroom from the hot water, Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve to use as vegetable stock.  Put the frying pan back on the heat and add a good splash of olive oil. Fry the porcini and fresh mushrooms over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until beginning to brown. 
Reduce the heat to medium and pour over 300ml of the stock. Add the garlic, thyme and the lemon juice. 
Continue to cook the mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are shiny. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Stir the cheese and mushrooms into the spinach. Then add two-thirds of the Parmesan, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and put in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 3.  Peel the tomatoes and slice off the tops about a third of the way down. Reserve the tops to use as lids. Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop the pulp out of the tomatoes, reserving it for the dressing. 
Fold the egg yolk into the cottage cheese mixture. 
Stuff the tomatoes with the mix, piling it up well but without pressing down - this may cause the tomatoes to split. 
Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on top and replace the tomato tops, tilting them at a jaunty angle. Carefully place the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until the filling is heated through.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Combine the reserved tomato juice and pulp with the mustard, vinegar, oil and basil. Whisk together and pour over the cooked tomatoes before serving.
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