- Rachael Ray's non profit organization, Yum-o! - https://www.yum-o.org -

Meatball in a Tomato


  • 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


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Soak the bread in milk.
  3. Cut about half an inch off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and heart of the flesh.
  4. Drizzle the cavity of the tomatoes with the oil; season the tomatoes with salt, pepper and thyme.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Combine the chopped cherry tomatoes with the mozzarella and basil and combine with your fingertips.
  9. Serve the tomatoes in shallow bowls topped with some of the tomato-mozzarella-basil salad.