Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes
Stuffed tomatoes are best eaten in the summer when the tomatoes are sweet and succulent. If you start with a bad tomato you'll end up with[ a bad stuffed tomato. The sweet juices of the tomato co-mingle with the olive oil and the herbs and soak into the bread. The olives and Parmesan add texture and saltiness. After trying these, you'll never look at a baked tomato the same again. These tomatoes are great served with lamb, chicken and fish.]
- 8 (1 by 1-inch) bread cubes
- 8 medium-small ripe red or yellow tomatoes
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata or nicoise olives
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Increase the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the cores from the top of the tomatoes and cut the top off the tomato 1/4 of the way down. Reserve the tops. Slice enough of the bottom off each tomato, so it stands up, but don't cut through to the seed. (If you cut too deep, patch the hole with the piece you have just sliced off, by placing it in the bottom after you've hollowed it out.)
Using a melon baller, carefully scoop the inside of the tomatoes out, taking care not to penetrate the sides and create holes. Collect the balls of pulp and chop coarsely. Press the juice and seeds through a strainer. Add the strained juice to the chopped pulp.
In a bowl, mix together the tomato pulp, Parmesan, olives, olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic. Toss with the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit until the bread cubes have soaked up most of the moisture.
Season the interior of each tomato with salt and black pepper. Stuff each tomato with 1 bread cube and as much as herb olive mixture that you can pack in. Top with the reserved tomato tops and stick a toothpick through the center of the top to keep it from sliding off while it bakes. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a roasting pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle the tops of tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until bubbling and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
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