Yes, we are still harvesting tomatoes from both our backyard Earth Box and Restoration Farm, but not really in the overwhelming quantities that forced me to start making sauce and freezing. There are just enough to make something out of, but what? You know I’m not letting them go to waste….
So I happened upon a recipe for stuffed tomatoes, Murcia-style, from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden in an e-letter from La Tienda (purveyors of Spanish food products) and I said – hey, I can do that with the beef I already have seasoned in the fridge! (recipe below). So I did. Fast, easy and quite gorgeous. My dad did the same with green peppers (we are getting loads of them from the farm) and they also came out beautifully tasty and eye-catching.
If you are avoiding carbs these kind of stuffed vegetables can be very satisfying….I would also like you to know that the tomatoes in these photos came from our little garden, and that I sent Leandro out to pick them his very own four-year-old farmer self and he came back arms full and very pleased. Whee-hee! But no, he still won’t eat tomatoes, so we still have a ways to go….
Murcia-inspired Stuffed Tomatoes
4 large beefsteak tomatoes (about 2 pounds) or several smaller ones. They need to be big enough to stand up to stuffing
Sprinkling of salt and sugar (optional)
1 Cup Basic Seasoned Ground Beef (recipe below) or your preferred seasoned ground beef or pork
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut a small slice off the stem end of each tomato to use as lids (leave the stems and leaves on for rustic good-looks). Take a thin slice off the bottom of each to give stability when you stand them up. Shave the inside of the lids to leave more room for the stuffing. Remove pulp and seeds with a pointed teaspoon and reserve. You may sprinkle the insides of the tomato with salt/sugar to season slightly, if desired.
Heat the beef in a skillet with the reserved tomato seeds and pulp until just warm. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stuff the tomatoes with the beef, pressing it in firmly, and cover with the lids.
Arrange the tomatoes in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft; remove them before they start to fall apart.
BASIC SEASONED GROUND BEEF (this is half of what I usually do to freeze. To do 3 lbs. at a time, double everything)
2 Tbs extra virigin olive oil
1 baseball sized onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (go for more if you like – I do!)
1.5 lbs. ground beef
(Optional1/4-1/2 C. chopped red pepper fresh or roasted from a jar)
1/2 tsp adobo powder* (if desired – I generally don’t use it, but some people love the extra salt and the umami)
1 heaping Tbs capers, drained
10 manzanilla olives (pitted and stuffed with pimientos)
(optional 1/2 cup tomatoes from a can – diced, chopped, whatever or a spoonful of tomato paste you need to use up)
Heat oil on high in a large saucepan until thin and fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes until well coated and getting translucent. Lower heat to fairly low and cook for five minutes, add garlic and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high and crumble in ground beef, stirring and breaking up frequently until fully-browned. Spoon out fat or pour off (don’t make it too dry!) into sink (carefully!).
Return to heat, add red pepper, optional adobo, capers, olives and optional tomato. Mix completely. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until fat begins to separate from sauce. Serve or freeze.
*instead of adobo powder, mix 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbs mixed chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley) or 1 tsp dried