Meatball in a Tomato
Stuffing isn’t just for stuffed peppers anymore! Try these stuffed tomatoes topped for a delicious variation that can be served as a light meal or served warm or at room temperature for a potluck.
- 1 1/2 cups diced bread
- About 1/2 cup milk, to soften bread
- 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a drizzle
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 3/4 pound ground beef, pork and veal mix
- Salt and pepper
- A few grates nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped and loosely packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs or large homemade breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 pint grape tomatoes or small cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 pound ball fresh mozzarella, cut into small dice
- 12 leaves fresh basil, rolled and very thinly sliced
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
- Soak the bread in milk.
- Cut about half an inch off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and heart of the flesh.
- Drizzle the cavity of the tomatoes with the oil; season the tomatoes with salt, pepper and thyme.
- In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seed and stir, then add the meat and lightly brown. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. Add the grated onion and garlic and stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Squeeze the excess milk from bread and crumble into the cooled meat. Add the parsley, half the grated cheese and the egg. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture; cover and bake for 20 minutes.
- Toss the panko or homemade crumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil and combine with remaining cheese. Top the tomatoes evenly with the mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes more until lightly golden brown on top.
- Combine the chopped cherry tomatoes with the mozzarella and basil and combine with your fingertips.
- Serve the tomatoes in shallow bowls topped with some of the tomato-mozzarella-basil salad.