What to do with those giant vegetables — in your CSAs, at the farmers market, or from your garden, the ones that are probably less sweet, often relegated to seconds status? They’re the perfect vegetables to stuff. Peppers and tomatoes lend perhaps the best shape and peppers are already hollowed out, but get creative and use what you have. Read on for more.
Stuffed Onions with Chard and Feta
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 30 to 45 minutes
3 red, white, or Vidalia onions, halved horizontally
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup white wine or water
1 pound Swiss chard
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 400°F. Halve unpeeled onions around their equator and put in a greased pan, cut side down. Drizzle with melted butter and pour ¼ cup white wine or water over all. Bake in a 400°F oven until they’re just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the inner layers of onion, and the skin if you like. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
Cut the stems off a pound of chard and cut leaves into ribbons. Save the stems, keeping them separate. Put oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pan and cook for a minute. Cook until everything is caramelized, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the olives. Return heat to medium and stir in the chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Add the chard leaves and feta, cover, and turn off the heat. Let chard steam for another 2–3 minutes. Uncover, stir, and re-cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
Turn the onions over, stuff them with the chard, and finish them in a 375°F oven until the stuffing is hot and the onion is tender, about 20 minutes more.
Tomatoes Stuffed with Sausage and Rice
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 50 minutes, with cooked rice
4 to 6 firm, fresh tomatoes (about 6 ounces each)
8 ounces fresh sausage, removed from the casings if necessary
1 cup cooked white basmati, brown, or wild rice or other cooked grain
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
Chopped parsley or basil for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut a ¼-inch slice from the flower end of each tomato (the bottom or opposite side of the stem end). Reserve these slices. Or halve tomatoes lengthwise.
2. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides of the tomatoes, leaving a wall about ¼ inch thick. Discard the woody core and seeds. Chop the pulp and mix it with the sausage, rice, garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Sprinkle the inside of the tomato with salt and pepper. Fill them with the sausage mixture and replace the top slices. Spread ¼ cup of the oil in a shallow roasting pan that will allow for a little room between the tomatoes; put them in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled and the sausage is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. An instant thermometer inserted into the middle of one of the tomatoes should read at least 165 degrees. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, drizzled with the remaining oil and garnished with parsley.
Quick Stuffed Tomatoes
Halve tomatoes, core, and scoop out seeds. Mix together ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper, and just enough olive oil to make it hold together. Fill the tomato halves with this. Proceed with the recipe above and reduce the cooking time to 20–30 minutes, depending on the size of the tomato.
Cut the tops off any color bell pepper and scoop out the seeds. Save the tops if you like. Mix black beans and rice with a cup of grated mild melting cheese like mozzarella or Oaxaca. Bake or grill the peppers until the cheese has melted and the outsides are browned in spots. Serve hot or warm with any salsa you like.