Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cooking with Celia: Orzo-Stuffed Tomatoes

Given the popularity of my Black-Eyed Peas & Quinoa Salad post and my general lack of inspiration this week having to do with writing matters, I've decided a late-weekend "Cooking with Celia" post is better than no post at all. Ergo, I present to you my Orzo-Stuffed Tomatoes. I make these with veggie chicken strips and vegan mayo, but I assume it would work as well with a dead animal and something made out of an embryo. Any stuffed tomato recipe is only as good as the tomatoes, of course, so do try to get your hands on actual tomatoes. Try organic, vine-ripened. Also, be careful with the orzo: note that it nearly doubles in size as it cooks, so 1 cup cooked is just about 1/2 - 1/3 cup raw. As to the apple, any kind will do, but I prefer a nice, tart green one.


6 large tomatoes
1 cup cooked orzo
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
3/4 cup each of chopped celery, carrot, and apple
3/4 cup thawed peas
3/4 cup chopped curly parsley
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
3/4 cup mayo
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
Romaine leaves for garnish

1. Prepare the tomatoes. I prefer to leave the peel on, because it helps to keep the tomatoes sturdy. If it freaks you out, however, lightly score a cross at the bottom of each tomato. Dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, until the scored part shrinks slightly. Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water, or they will cook. When they are cool enough to handle, the peel should come off easily. Otherwise, just cut the top off to form a bowl. You can be fancy if you like and make a cute pattern, like scallops or a zigzag. You can throw away the tops or use them later as a garnish. Also remove a small sliver from the bottom so the tomato will sit up when stuffed. Scoop out the insides with a small spoon, gently. You can save these for a soup or sauce.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the orzo, chicken, celery, carrot, apple, peas, parsley, and garlic.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, pepper, and salt until well mixed. Fold into orzo salad.

4. Using a spoon, stuff orzo salad into the tomatoes. Don't worry if there's leftover salad, you can use it for garnish.

5.  Serve over romaine leaves. Place any leftover salad around the tomato. Garnish with tomato tops, celery stalks, or parsley. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, overnight.

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