Old World Stuffed Tomatoes
Couscuous is used in this recipe by Christie Morrison, Cook's Country (June/July 2014). It is a traditional Berber dish of North Africa of granules of durum wheat, cooked by steaming. It is traditionally served with meat or vegetable stew. It is used like barley here in United States. In Sicily, it is served with fish and it is the third favorite dish of French people according to a survey in 2011.
For scooping tomatoes out: Use a melon scoop, or a tomato scoop (with teeth); or if you feel inventive and think like a pioneer, you can make your own custom scoop. Get an old spoon from a second-hand shop, tablespoon or small serving spoon. Make sure it is pure metal and NOT plated like the Chinese-made junk – pure stainless if possible. Sharpen the top end of the spoon and the left side. Then with a Dremel tool, grind teeth into the sharpened left side. Polish it if you feel the need. You now have a homemade, American made scooping spoon. If you prefer a coarse texture of bread crumbs, use panko.
4 large tomatoes, 8 to 10 ounces each
Sea salt and black pepper
4-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
¼ cup Italian bread crumbs
¾ cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 onion, halved and sliced thin or 1 teaspoon onion powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups baby spinach, chopped coarse
1 cup couscous or wild/brown rice
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest or lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Adjust oven rack to middle and heat oven to 375°F. Cut top ½-inch of stem end of tomatoes. Using scoop of your choice, scoop out tomatoes and transfer pulp to fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl or cup. Press on pulp with wooden spoon to extract juice; set aside juice and discard pulp. If you have less than 2/3 cup of tomato juice, add water to make 2/3 cup.
- Sprinkle each tomato cavity with sea salt and turn upside down on plate to drain for 30 minutes.
- Combine 1-1/2 teaspoons oil and bread crumbs (panko) in 10-inch skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup Gruyère (Swiss Cheese).
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon sea salt (you can substitute salt with garlic powder) and cook until softened or onion powder is dissolved. Stir in minced garlic (can you tell I like garlic?) and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach, one handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in couscous (or cooked wild/brown rice), lemon zest/juice, and reserved tomato juice. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit until couscous has absorbed liquid, about 7 minutes. Transfer couscous mixture to bowl and stir in remaining ½ cup Gruyère. Season with black pepper or Mrs. Dash table seasoning to taste. You can serve the stuffed tomatoes with their tops, for a pleasing, professional look. This side dish is good with burgers or any meat dinner.
Stuffed Tomatoes with tops