Last week I wrote about my summer obsession with peaches. This week I’m talking tomatoes, which come in a very close second place to my beloved peach. In fact, I don’t think we have to choose a favorite, do we? Let’s enjoy them both as long as our local farmers can grow them.
Just like the peach, my favorite way to eat a summer tomato is right over the sink, maybe with a little salt and pepper cracked over. But after I’ve gotten my fill of tomato sandwiches and BLTs, I like to take a few and stuff them with fresh spinach, onion, pine nuts, basil and two kinds of cheeses. The combination of these flavors is perfect alongside a sliced flank steak from your grill, and these tomatoes are filling enough to make it a great vegetarian solution for those of us trying to eat less meat I our weekly diets.
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes
8 ripe red summer tomatoes, tops removed
3 Tbs olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
10 oz fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
1/2 cup chopped basil
Preheat oven to 350° F. Scrape out the insides of the tomatoes. Set the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel to drain while you cook the onions. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook, covered, over low heat until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Add chopped spinach to the skillet and combine thoroughly with onions. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes.
While cooking, beat ricotta and egg yolks together thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Add spinach mixture, pine nuts, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon an equal share of the spinach mixture into each tomato and top with a sprinkle of additional Parmesan. Arrange tomatoes in a shallow baking dish and bake until tops are well browned and filling is hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
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