08 May 2009

Stemmed Tomatoes Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese


Do you have a cookbook you go back to again and again for inspiration? Some of my favorite cookbooks, like "Betty Crocker's Cookbook," are on my shelf because I can trust them for the basics. Some, like "Joie De Vivre" by Robert Arbor, share wonderful stories about food. Still others, like "All About Chocolate" by Carole Bloom, share the history and science of foods I love. But I really enjoy a cookbook that shows me the art of food and inspires me to get in the kitchen and try new things.

This year I have found myself turning to "Table for Two: French Recipes for Romantic Dining" by Marianne Paquin again and again, whether I am cooking for two or for ten. It is a bit oversized and filled with beautiful full page photos of gorgeous food. Many of the recipes are quite simple and feature foods at their beautiful best dressed with simple and appealing garnishes. They are also often easily doubled or tripled to feed any number for dinner. I flip through thinking, "Wow!" and "I could do that!" and even if I don't always follow the recipe to the letter I almost always end up with something wonderful for dinner.

Case in point, these lovely little cheese stuffed tomatoes. I saw the photo and was delighted by how cute they are. The bright red of the tomatoes, the soft white of the cheese, the perky little stems on top and the nest of fresh herbs was very appealing. I had to try it! And, while it was a little tricky I was thrilled with the results. I will definitely be making these again. If you want an impressive starter for a special meal or a fresh and surprising dish for a spring luncheon, give these a try.


Stemmed Tomatoes Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese

1 box medium-sized, firm, bright red, vine-ripened tomatoes with stems
8 oz soft goat cheese (more or less depending on the size of the tomatoes)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 teaspoon freshly ground mixed peppercorns
1/2 teaspoons salt
Sprigs of basil, parsley, chives, lemon thyme, dill and/or other fresh herbs
coarsely ground pink peppercorns (optional)

Immerse tomatoes, with stems intact, in boiling water for 1 minute.

Drain and rinse under cold water until easily handled. Remove the skin leaving the stems in place. (The skin should slip off easily.) Set aside.

Wash and trim the herbs. Pat dry. Finely chop approximately 2 tablespoons of mixed herbs. Coarsely tear the rest of the herbs and set aside.

In a small bowl mash the goat cheese with a fork and thoroughly combine the cheese, finely chopped herbs, 1 teaspoon of ground mixed peppercorns, salt and 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cut off a small slice from the bottom of each tomato (where it won't be seen when the tomatoes sit upright) with a sharp knife. Carefully scoop out the soft center using a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon, being careful to leave the sides intact.

Fill the cavity with the goat cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare Crostini.


Crostini

1 baguette, sliced thin on the diagonal
1/4 cup butter, melted (or extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush the slices with melted butter or olive oil. Sprinkle the tops with shredded parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Toast the baguette slices under the broiler, watching carefully, until toasty brown. Remove from oven. Set aside.


To serve: Arrange several tomatoes on a serving plate, stem side up. Drizzle the tomatoes and plates with the remaining olive oil. Scatter the torn herbs over the top and sprinkle with crushed pink peppercorns.

Serve with Crostini.

Enjoy!

Note: I chose very small tomatoes the first time I made this dish. They were so cute! They were also difficult to work with because the outside of the tomatoes were thin and it was difficult to get the spoon inside carefully to scoop them out. Medium sized tomatoes make a better choice.

11 comments:

Happy cook said...

Wow they look beautiful and i am sure they were delicious too.

Nicisme said...

I absolutely love the look of these glorious tomatoes, I must bookmark this for when we get our tom crop!

Ivy said...

These are really stunning and totally romantic. :)

Cathy said...

Fantastic, Lisa! I've developed a taste for goat cheese and this recipe looks like a winner. Can't wait to try it.

noble pig said...

What a beautiful presentation for such wonderful flavors.

Bunny said...

These are lovely!! What a wow this would make on a plate, great photo!

Pam said...

Hey, I bought some goat cheese today, thinking I would flavor it up with some herbs. Now, I know what to do with it!

Grace said...

this looks like an appetizer you'd get at a restaurant that'd cost you an arm and a leg--it's so elegant and sophisticated! lovely shots of a fabulous dish, lisa!

Bellini Valli said...

I am loving this idea, perfect for entertaining.

Theresa said...

Lisa

You have been one busy girl with your blog. There is herbed goat cheese you can buy already prepared. I would use that because as we know I am lazy.

Jennie said...

OMG! I can't wait for the heirloom tomatoes to show up at the farmer's market now! And I'm glad you added that note. My first thought was how cute those would be made from cherry tomatoes! I'll take your advice and use the medium sized ones! Thanks for the recipe :)