Whenever stuffed shells were served at school lunches, I remember eating just the parsley-flecked ricotta filling. The slippery husks remained untouched on the plate at the end of the period. Why bother with the pasta, I used to think. I feel the same way about these stuffed tomatoes as I did about those stuffed shells.
While it did look quite cute, the tomato “cup” didn’t necessarily compliment its contents in texture or in flavor. A little too juicy and a little too acidic. The spinach and ricotta filling was delicious though so if you can think up another way to use it, I’d love to know.
From The Silver Palate on stuffed-tomato technique:
“Select large symmetrical tomatoes, the riper the better. Cut off the tops with a serrated knife and reserve tops. Use the handle-end of a teaspoon to scrape out all the seeds, juice and partitions, leaving the shell (be careful not to pierce the sides). Salt the cavities and set the tomatoes upside top on a paper towel for for 30 minutes.
Blot tomato cavities with a paper towel and fill them with your selected stuffing, mounding it slightly. Set the reserved caps back on top at a jaunty angle; refrigerate until serving time.”
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes
8 ripe red tomatoes, the best you can find
salt for draining tomatoes
3 tablespoons best-quality olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted, drained, and squeezed dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
nutmeg, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I omitted these)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional cheese to top tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1. Wash and dry the tomatoes and follow steps outline in technique notes above.
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onions and cook, covered, over low heat until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes.
3. Chop the spinach and add it to the skillet. Combine onions and spinach thoroughly, season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and cover. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Do not let the mixture scorch.
4. Beat ricotta and egg yolks together thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Add spinach mixture, pine nuts, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Gently blot tomato cavities dry with a paper towel and spoon an equal share of the spinach mixture into each one. Top each tomato with a sprinkle of additional Parmesan.
6. Arrange tomatoes in a shallow baking dish and set in the upper third of a preheated 350°F oven. Bake until tops are well browned and filling is hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.