Stuff A Tomato Not A Pepper

This Jan. 31, 2018 photo shows quinoa-stuffed tomatoes in Bethesda, Md. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (Melissa d'Arabian via AP)

Does your meatless Monday game need an overhaul?

As a meat-eater myself, I find that the trick to meatless meal-making is to have a small repertoire of recipes that can work as a side dish or first course, or be eaten in larger quantities as a vegetarian main dish. This is the same strategy I use when hosting a vegetarian in my home.

Today’s Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes fits the bill perfectly. Serve one tomato as a tasty and toothsome side along some roasted chicken or sliced beef tenderloin, or double up for a vegetarian meal that will fill you up, even if you aren’t vegetarian. These tomatoes can be made in advance, so they are equally brilliant for both company dinners and weeknight family suppers.

While I don’t think you’ll miss the meat, if you must, feel free to add in a little cooked ground meat right into the filling.

Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes

Servings: 8

Start to finish: 1 hour, including inactive cooking time

8 medium sized tomatoes

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)

1 small eggplant, cut into small dice (1/2 inch), about 2 cups

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup roughly chopped or sliced white mushrooms

3 tablespoons dry white wine

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice off the top of each tomato, reserving the tops.

Run a paring knife around the inner rim of the tomato, loosening up the flesh on the inside of the tomato. Use a small spoon and scoop out the flesh, juice and seeds of the tomato. (Either discard or pulse in blender to use in a tomato sauce.)

Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with half the salt and set aside. In a large saute pan, cook the onion and eggplant in the olive oil over medium high heat until vegetables start to soften, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms soften, about 5 more minutes.

Pour in the wine and stir to let it evaporate. Add the basil, quinoa, remaining salt and pepper and turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Gently spoon the filling into the empty tomatoes, and top each one with a reserved tomato top.

Place the tomatoes in a baking dish sprayed with a little olive oil from a mister (or nonstick spray). Mist the tomatoes with a quick spray of olive oil from a mister. Cover the dish with an oven-safe lid or foil. Bake until the tomatoes are tender and quinoa mixture is hot, about 35-40 minutes.