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Tomatoes are packed with seasonal produce like yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper, for a ratatouille-like melange of summer flavors. [Photograph: Oliver Parini]

Tomatoes are still abundant this time of year in California. They're mostly big meaty specimens, taut with sweet juice. The fruit is wonderful on its own, but sometimes I want to eat something other than a tomato salad or mayonnaise-laden sandwich. Tracey Medeiros offers an easy stuffed tomato recipe in her new book, The Vermont Table Cookbook. Instead of stuffing the tomatoes with a meat or bread-based stuffing, this recipe from Your Farm suggests filling them with other seasonal produce like yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper. The vegetables all mingle together inside fat Brandywines to make a ratatouille-like melange of summer flavors.

Why I picked this recipe: How could I resist tasting the great vegetables of summer, all packaged together in a neat tomato bowl.

What worked: The combination of vegetables, garlic, basil, and cheese can't be beat, no matter how they're combined.

What didn't: I ended up carving out more of the tomato flesh than written in the recipe so that I'd have room to stuff all the vegetables.

Suggested tweaks: You could go crazy here with the vegetable filling and use whatever you've got, but be sure to sauté the filling until the vegetables have just softened. The tomatoes don't spend much time baking, so don't rely on the oven to cook the filling. You can also use tomatoes other than Brandywine; if they're on the smaller side, you'll want to use more than four in order to use up the filling.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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