These stuffed tomatoes are the brainchild of two recent dining experiences. While in Boulder, my friend Kirsten and I enjoyed tapas and happy hour at The Med (if you’re ever in Boulder, I insist that you do the same!). We ordered a smorgasbord of appetizers and went gaga over one in particular, which was just a ramekin of baked tomatoes, feta, artichoke and kalamata olives. That spread will become a post of its own soon enough, but the combination of ingredients inspired this pretty dish.
A few weeks later, I experienced my first stuffed tomato at my mom’s birthday dinner. After placing my order, my dad mentioned that my grandmother Mimi used to make stuffed tomatoes, which piqued my interest. I cut into the pesto and cheese stuffed tomato and oil exploded onto my plate—not the most appetizing effect. It was good, but I knew it could be better.
When it came to making my own stuffed tomatoes, I decided to use The Med’s tapas ingredients, but turned the tomato into the container. I added quinoa to make it a bit more substantial, went easy on the olive oil, and used feta, which is lower in fat than most cheeses, so it wouldn’t ooze grease. I ate two stuffed tomatoes for dinner but found myself hungry a few hours later, so I think these would be best as a side, or at least accompanied by a hearty green salad. These charming little sides would be great for an upcoming get together!
- 1 cup cooked red or black quinoa
- 8 medium on-the-vine tomatoes
- 1/3 can quartered artichokes (about 4 ounces, or 1/2 cup), roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup full fat feta, plus a few tablespoons extra for topping
- 15 kalamata olives, sliced thin (I prefer the Mediterranean Organic brand)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves fresh garlic (minced or use a garlic press)
- ground sea salt, to taste
- Cook your quinoa: Measure out 1/3 cup of quinoa, pour into a mesh colandar, and rinse the quinoa under running water for a minute. Pour the rinsed quinoa into a small pot and add 2/3 cup water (you’re going for a 1:2 ratio of quinoa and water). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, and fluff with a fork. 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa should yield a little over one cup cooked quinoa. I would use all of it in the filling.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Core the tomatoes by slicing off the top 1/8 inch of each tomato. Run a small knife vertically around the core. Be careful not to cut through the bottom. Use your finger to gently pull out the core and use the knife to clean out any excess left inside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the filling (cooked quinoa, feta, artichokes, olives, olive oil and garlic).
- Taste and add salt if necessary (feta and olives are salty to begin with, so you may not need any).
- Spray your dish with cooking oil and brush the tops of the cored tomatoes with olive oil.
- Use a spoon to stuff the tomatoes with the quinoa mixture.
- Top each tomato with extra feta.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the feta starts to turn golden.
- Garnish each tomato with a small basil leaf.