A sign of summer, heirloom tomatoes are easily on my list of favorite foods. Now, I'm more than a little particular when it comes to tomatoes -- commercial fruit need not apply! Cherry, plum and grape tomatoes are some of my favorite snacks and ingredients, but once you get into full sized tomatoes, things get a little rough. Beefsteaks and Romas, you're so red and round - but when I slice you open, water comes pouring out leaving flavorless, sometimes soggy, flesh. Yuck. Here's where heirloom tomatoes come in: in western Washington, growing your own tomatoes is just about impossible - there aren't enough consistently warm and sunny days to ripen the fruit. But heirlooms - grown locally and available at supermarkets, grocery stores and farmer's markets are summertime perfection. Richly colored, in crazy shapes and sizes, a slice reveals a complex web of interconnected chambers, and almost no watery juice to speak of! These are the tomatoes of Italian cooking, the tomatoes you can eat right off the vine - the tomatoes you should bake with.
Mozzarella Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes
Serves 2 (as a sidedish or appetizer)
2 Heirloom tomatoes (6-8 oz each)
4 oz fresh mozzarella or a mixture of 3 oz mozarella, 1 oz ricotta
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs or GF panko
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut a 1/4-inch slice off the stem end of the tomatoes, reserving the "lid" and pulp.
Chop the tomato guts (er, pulp) and, in a medium bowl, combine with mozzarella, bread crumbs, basil, salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Place stuffed tomatoes in a greased roasting pan. Replace the reserved "lids" and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until tomatoes are wrinkly and cheese is bubbling. Garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.