I am holding onto the last warm days of the season with all my might… I am in Complete Denial that the last day of summer recently came and went. And one of the ways I keep my little delusion going is by continuing to buy those big juicy locally grown tomatoes at our friendly neighborhood farmer’s market. I figure as long as the nights are still frost-free and the tomatoes are still around, Summer Still Lives!!
I came across this fabulous recipe while trolling through the Dining section of The New York Times, and was sucked in by the name of his original recipe: Robiola-Stuffed Tomatoes. Huh? As it turns out, robiola is the name of a delicious cheese that I had never heard of or tasted before, and they actually had it at my local wonderful supermarket. It seems like it is a pretty close cousin to Brie and Camembert – soft and creamily scrumptious – and so if you can’t track it down either one of those would be a perfectly fine substitute. So here’s the deal: you cut the top off of a couple of perfect tomatoes, scoop out the insides, sprinkle them with salt and turn them over a paper towel to drain while you do the rest.
The rest is this: mash up some robiola or brie with some gorgonzola cheese and some butter. (No, this is not your typical dietetic tomato salad recipe.) Toss in some paprika and a little vodka. Go back to the tomato insides that you scooped out and chopped them up and mix them in too. Now, this is where the original recipe for the filling ends, and it was perfectly fine that way. HOWEVER… you can take this an awesome step further by mixing in any of the following: Cooked orzo. Toasted homemade bread crumbs. Cooked white rice. Etc. Because life is better with carbs. Now turn your tomato shells right side up, stuff them with the filling, and sprinkle the whole thing with chopped parsley and a little fresh ground pepper. You are now looking at the world’s best tomato salad… it makes a lovely weekend lunch, or a great, dramatic side dish for those last grilled chicken or steak dinners of the early fall season.
adapted from Recipes From an Italian Summer, by the editors of Phaidon Press
original New York Times article here
4 large ripe tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste
3½ ounces robiola, Brie or Camembert cheese, rind removed, diced
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon mild paprika
4 chives, finely diced
2 tablespoons vodka
1 cup orzo, rice or toasted bread crumbs, optional
1. Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh. Sprinkle the shells with kosher salt and turn them upside down on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Place the cheeses and butter in a bowl, season sparingly with salt and aggressively with pepper, and beat until smooth.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
4. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture. Place on serving dish until ready to serve. Serves 4.