If, like me, you haven't tired of this season's glorious farmers' market tomatoes (and how could such a thing be possible?), here's another tomato-centric recipe that makes prime use of this brilliant little fruit. You might call this particular recipe an exercise in culinary improvisation; its incredibly inspired origins went something like "What do we have in the fridge that's about to go bad if unused?" (Glamorous, huh?) The answer? Zucchini, carrots, scallions, cilantro and a batch of leftover brown rice begging to be used for something other than one of my default rice bowl variations.
When one finds oneself, fortuitously, in possession of fresh tomatoes, rice, and a medley of fragrant vegetables, the only logical conclusion is and will always be: stuffed tomatoes. (Mendel's Law of Stuffed Tomatoes, 1866.*) Seriously though, this is a delicious and healthy way to use the odds and ends hanging out in your kitchen. And, like any good summer recipe, it's super easy to boot.
I veganized this recipe by using Vegenaise and Daiya cheddar-style cheese alternative. (A quick note on Daiya. I try to avoid dairy "replacement" products because, when you get down to it, they're not whole or natural foods and oftentimes aren't yummy enough to bother with anyway. However, I've found Daiya to be a vast improvement over most of the the tastes-like-a-cheese-flavored-dirty-sock alternatives I've tried. Plus, it actually melts.)
Vegan Stuffed Tomatoes
4 ripe tomatoes (any medium to large variety will do)
2 cups brown rice, cooked (it's ok if you have more rice mixture than can fit inside the tomatoes...you can eat the leftover rice mixture atop mixed greens for tomorrow's lunch.)
1 cup carrot, grated
1 cup zucchini, grated
1 scallion, diced
2 tbsp. cilantro, diced (you could use almost any herb here...basil, for example, would work just as well)
1-2 tbsp. Vegenaise (or mayonnaise for non-vegans of course)
1/2 cup cheddar-style Daiya (again, non-vegans can sub any kind of real cheese here) plus a bit more to sprinkle on top
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Turn on the broiler or preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a small paring knife to hollow out your tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to cut a circle in the top of the tomato, angling your knife toward the center of the fruit. From there, you'll be able to scrape out the innards pretty easily. (Pretty violent imagery for a vegan recipe, isn't it?) Set tomatoes upright on an oven-safe pan. If you have trouble getting them to stay upright, try using a muffin tin to hold them in place. In a large bowl, combine the rest of your ingredients and stir well. Spoon rice mixture into the tomatoes, pressing it down into the tomato with your spoon as needed. Sprinkle a bit of Daiya on top of each tomato, and pop into the oven for about 8 minutes. These cook quickly, so keep an eye on them. It could be more or less than 8 minutes depending on the particulars of your oven.
Et voila, you've got a healthy and clean summer feast in minutes. I ate mine with a side of organic black beans (topped with a little more Daiya) and some fresh watercress.
Question for you: Do you have a favorite "stuffed" recipe? Stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, etc.?
*This is a complete fabrication on my part. But it should be true, shouldn't it?