Use this filling and cooking technique to stuff any vegetables such as baby egg- plant, squash, or mushrooms. Let’s face it: most people like savory stuffed foods. There is something invit- ing and intriguing about the neat little package that is a stuffed vegetable. We may not even know what is inside, but we know there is something exciting waiting for us therein. Like a hidden surprise or an ornately decorated gift waiting to be unwrapped, much effort has gone into creating something spe- cial which begs our attention more than any unstuffed vegetable could.
While stuffed cabbage is the iconic Norther European culinary dish for Fall, the tradition for serving stuffed foods transcends many dishes and countries. In the Mediterranean tradition, “mehshi” (stuffed foods) are ubiquitous all year round (Syrian Jewish cuisine from Aleppo has been called “Queen of the Mehshi”), stuffing everything from egg- plant to onions to grape leaves. Although stuffed foods may seem exotic, they are also very practical and crowd appealing.
80 MIN DURATION
40 MIN PREP TIME; 40 MIN COOK TIME
Cut off and set aside the tops of tomatoes. Scoop out the insides of the tomatoes – be careful to leave shells intact for stuffing (a melon baller does a good job of this).
Coarsely chop tomato “guts”, add to colander, and set aside to allow tomatoes to drain excess liquid.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet, add onion and sauté for about 4-5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, salt, pepper and garam masala. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
Add quinoa and stir to blend, toasting the quinoa for about 1-2 minutes. Add chopped and drained tomatoes and currants; mix to incorporate. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa’s outside germ ring is visible.
Remove from heat. Gently stir in chopped herbs and season to taste.
Spoon mixture into reserved tomato shells. Place each stuffed tomato in a large casserole dish. Cover each tomato with a reserved tomato top.
Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes; do not overcook or tomatoes will split open.
Remove from oven. Garnish with additional fresh chopped herbs.
• PATTY PAN SQUASH & MINI EGGPLANT OPTION:
This recipe works wonderfully in mini squash & mini eggplant as well. Slice eggplant and/or squash in half and roast in 375°F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and follow above recipe from step 4.
• It is especially important for herbs and spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg to be organic or biodynamic for better results and taste. Commercial herbs and spices are commonly contaminated and often stale, losing their nutritional value. Kitchen gardens and quality certified local sources are always preferred. Buy organic ingredients collectively, divide among friends for better value and fresher, more nutritious and delicious food Think globally; act locally as Rene Dubos, a scientific father of planetary sustainability suggested.
• Freshly grind black pepper and nutmeg to improve taste and digestibility. (Must be fresh ground to be beneficial.)
* Garam masala is a lot like curry powder but has some more potent spices in the blend e.g., cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. It is common in North Indian and other South Asian cuisines and can be used alone or with other seasonings. While Garam Masala is easily found online or in stores, our recommendation is that it is best to make such spice blends yourself to ensure quality and integrity of ingredients. Whether used in garam masala or on its own, we recommend using Ceylon cinnamon, as it is healthier and more flavorful than other types of cinnamon.
Modified from NAOMI ROSS (SEPTEMBER 2019)