OK, this is basically just a shell of tomato wrapped around a big hunk of melted basil-flavored cheese. But it's also delicious, another fine offering from Jack Bishop's Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. As Jack says, "These tomatoes may be served as an all-in-one summer luncheon or a light dinner. Add a salad...to complete the meal." We did so, and some bread as well. Our tomatoes were somewhat on the small side, though (I couldn't even fit all the filling into them), so we each ended up eating two, which was a little overwhelmingly cheesy. (And we're avid cheese lovers, mind you.) So I'm thinking these might work better (one apiece) as a side dish with some chicken or something. However you serve them, they're simple and darned good--like warm bruschetta! Or...inside-out pizza? Something tasty, anyway.
Postscript, December 2009: Apparently, too cheesy to make it into the regular rotation. I never made these again.
4 large, ripe but firm tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup pesto, preferably homemade
5 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup plain fresh bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off and discard a 1/2-inch-thick slice from the top of each tomato, then use a small spoon to scoop out and discard the core and seeds, making sure to get rid of as much liquid as possible.
2. Mix together the pesto, cheese, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Use the small spoon to scoop some of the mixture into each tomato. Jack says, "[make] sure that the filling reaches into all the hollowed-out areas. Mound the filling a little above the top of each tomato and pat the filling gently to compact it." (Which I did, and which I think caused me overfill the tomatoes with cheese. I think I could have done with a little less filling, really, but would have to try again to be sure. Anyway, do whatever looks good to you.)
3. Place the tomatoes in a lightly greased baking dish just large enough to hold them (8x8), and bake until tomatoes are soft but not falling apart and cheese is bubbly and turning brown in spots, 25-30 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven, let them cool for at least 15 minutes, then serve them. Jack says the tomatoes can be kept at room temperature for several hours, if you'd rather not serve them hot (I suppose that might be good in the summer).
Serves: 4 (or maybe 2 as a main dish, if your tomatoes are smallish)
Time: 1 hour