Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I think I got this recipe from a magazine—Better Homes and Gardens, maybe? The photo looked so pretty, with a mix of red and yellow tomatoes and the green basil and the white cheese. The first time I made it, as I recall, I’d had sad out-of-season tomatoes, strangely mealy mozzarella, and no white wine vinegar (I had to use balsamic), and not surprisingly I wasn’t that impressed with the result. But it wasn’t bad, and remembering the pretty photo, I kept the recipe around. On Monday night I wanted to give it a second chance and do it the right way. Hedging my bets, though, I served it as a side dish to some pasta. And it was good—simple, summery, attractive enough to be suitable for entertaining. Also, I just love foods stuffed with other foods!

One of these tomatoes makes a good side dish or appetizer, but you could also have two of them, with some bread, as a light main course.

4 small-to-medium red, yellow, or green tomatoes (3-4 ounces each)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small chunks (about ½ cup)
¼ cup slivered red onion
¼ cup snipped fresh basil

1. Mix together the cheese, onion, and basil in a small bowl. Then, in a smaller bowl (or I use my usual screw-top jar for making dressing), combine the olive oil, vinegar, and sugar. Spoon 1½ tablespoons of this dressing into the cheese-onion-basil mixture and toss everything together.

2. Wash the tomatoes and cut a ¼-inch slice off the top (the stem end) of each one. Using a spoon (with maybe a little help from a knife to loosen things up first), scoop out the core, seeds, and tomato pulp from each one, leaving a ½-inch-thick tomato shell. Discard everything you scoop out. Sprinkle the inside of the tomato shells with the salt and pepper, then spoon some of the remaining dressing into each one. You probably won't use all the dressing, unless you like your tomatoes swimming in liquid (I probably only used between half and two-thirds of it).

3. Spoon the cheese-onion-basil mixture into the tomatoes and sprinkle them with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 4 as side dish/appetizer, 2 as main course
Time: 20 minutes

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