Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

For the past few years I have cultivated vegetables and herbs in my backyard. This year, with careful attention to watering because we have had a dry summer here in Ontario, I ended up with a treasure trove of fresh produce.

Fresh herbs are preferable in most dishes, and it is such a pleasure to go out a few steps and pick just what you need instead of buying a huge bunch of herbs from the market, most of which you know will likely go to waste. Why is it often so difficult to find portions that are manageable? I detest wasting food. Really, for most dishes do we really require a bushel of dill, cilantro or parsley? As it doesn't keep for all that long in the fridge, into the bin it sadly goes sometimes. I really don't have the space to dry it out, nor do I have room to grow herbs indoors during the winter as my houseplants have taken over the place, and I live with a cat besides.

Another pleasure is an abundance of fresh hot peppers. Spicy foods are so often on the menu in my home, and chilies are a must. The ones from the garden are so fresh, juicy and superior in flavor, and I don't have to go hunting around for the varieties that pack just the right amount of heat or drive to the nearest Indian market to get those cute little green chilies.

stuffed tomatoes with quinoa

This brings me to my next favorite part of this summer's harvest: fresh tomatoes, and lots of them! In the past, I haven't had much success with growing tomatoes, but after taking some advice from my Dad's girlfriend I planted a variety called Early Girl tomatoes. These bright red meaty tomatoes start early and grow well throughout the season. It is now the beginning of September and there are still lovely tomatoes growing on the vine. I've given some to friends, made them into a variety of dishes, eaten them sliced up with a bit of fresh cracked black pepper, and roasted them in the oven. This time, I wanted to make them shine and stuffed them with a mixture of quinoa, cornmeal for a bit of crunch, hot garden peppers and spice for a bit of a kick, black olives, and a generous helping of fresh herbs.

These make for a wonderful appetizer, or turn them into a light meal served with a warm goat cheese salad on toasted bread with pesto. A colorful and delicious tribute to the waning days of outdoor summer dining.

stuffed tomatoes with salad

Tip: If you store your tomatoes in the fridge, take them out an hour or two before preparing your dish as this will make it easier to remove the seeds and pulp.

Quinoa Stuffed TomatoesQuinoa Stuffed Tomatoes
Recipe by
Published on September 3, 2012

Fresh garden tomatoes stuffed with a spicy and savory quinoa, olive and herb mixture

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 - 3 fresh red chilies or jalapeƱos, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder*
  • pinch of cayenne
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • generous 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 5 medium to large ripe but firm tomatoes
Instructions:
  • Rinse the quinoa and soak overnight in 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a medium mixing bowl, and set aside to cool.

  • Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil.

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and begins to brown. Toss in the chilies and spices, and stir for another minute.

  • Add the onions and chilies to the quinoa. Add the lemon juice, cornmeal, olives, salt and black pepper to taste, and most of the herbs (reserve a little for garnish). Stir to combine, adding a little olive oil if the mixture is too dry, and set aside.

  • Preheat an oven to 325°. To prepare the tomatoes, slice about 1/2-inch off the top of the tomato and discard. Using a spoon and with the aid of a serrated knife, gently scoop out the seeds and most of the pulp until you have a hollow shell about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Separate a tablespoon or two of the pulp from the seeds and mix into the quinoa. Turn the shells upside down to drain off any excess liquid.

  • Lightly salt the inside of the tomato shells. Using a spoon, stuff the tomato shells with the quinoa, gently pushing the mixture down. Repeat until each shell is full and transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil

  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the quinoa has browned and the tomatoes are softened. Remove from heat and garnish with the reserved herbs. Serve hot or warm or at room temperature.

  • *Note: Kashmiri chili powder is milder than cayenne but with a fuller flavor, like paprika. It is available at all Indian and most Asian grocers, but if you don't have it on hand, substitute with paprika and add a little more cayenne.

Makes 5 appetizers or sides
stuffed tomatoes with quinoa and herbs

More stuffed goodness from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Quinoa
Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives
Samosa-Style Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers with Goat's Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

On the top of the reading stack: Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine by Martha Rose Shulman

Audio Accompaniment: Marko Furstenberg - Espenhain

2 comments:

Rashmi said...

Looks very new and tasty.i will try it.

Venera@veggykitchen said...

I love stuffed tomatoes. I usually stuff it with rice or mashed potatoes. It's time to try it with quinoa.