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Stuffed Tomatoes - total time 35 minutes

Nothing beats fresh tomatoes in the summer time!  There is a reason why tomatoes are the most home grown fruit or vegetable.  Some times they end up getting eaten like an apple right there in the garden while they are still warm from the summer sun.  The ones that make it inside are enjoyed fresh with some basil and mozzarella, cooked into different meals, made into sauce, or canned to unlock summer again in winter.

I read this book titled Tomatoland last summer.  You won't find it in my good reads list only because I felt it was kind of drawn out for a handful of good points, so I'll summarize those points in a few sentences.  At one time, tomatoes grew wild in Mexico, and if you search carefully, they still do.  The first hybrid tomato plant was grown down the street from where I live today (BTW, hybrids are not GMOs).  Most of the tomatoes we see in grocery stores are picked way before they are ripe; while they are still green and hard, so they are sprayed with a gas to ripen while in transit.  Tomato field workers travel to where the tomatoes are growing that week, get paid very little, and work in poor conditions.

As with all things, be a conscious consumer and vote with your dollar.  If you are not growing your own or getting your produce locally, buy organic when possible and read the labels.  Even some conventionally grown produce may have tracking labels now so you can look into where your food came from.  Things like CAFOs, GMOs, and illegal working conditions did not exist a few decades ago.  Our demand for cheap produce, meat, and dairy meant quality suffered.  A few extra dollars at the grocery store can help reverse the trend!

Back to tomatoes... my tomatoes are starting to ripen in my garden!  Yippee!  I've been in preview mode with tomatoes from our CSA deliveries.  While they have been delicious, I can't wait to bite into my first purple cherokee of the summer... probably just a few more days of ripening!  We might be overloaded with tomatoes soon.  With the rain and 80-90 degree temperatures, it has been perfect for these summer plants setting fruit.  There are a couple tomatoes in the garden that are bigger than grapefruits!  

Stuffed tomatoes is a great way to feature tomatoes in an entree, especially at peak season when they are so plentiful.  The bread crumbs give the zucchini a kind of meaty consistency that I wasn't expecting.  Definitely a great summer vegetarian recipe to try and it is pretty quick to make!

4 large tomatoes
1 zucchini, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
.5 cup bread crumbs
.5 cup parm, shredded
3 garlic cloves, minced
handful of basil, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut off top of tomatoes and scoop out the insides (save for a tomato sauce or for juicing).
2.  Shred zucchini and parm.  Chop onions and basil.  Mince garlic.  Combine all five ingredients together reserving a small amount of the parm to top the tomatoes.  Add half of the bread crumbs, the egg, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Scoop mixture into tomatoes and place in casserole dish.
3.  Top with bread crumbs and remaining parm.  Spray lightly with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes.  Turn broiler on for one last minute to brown the tops and then serve.


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