Stuffed Tomatoes

(“Pomidori Ripieni” - “Pumarora chini ca' muddica”)

 

Summertime is the tomato season and in Palermo the stuffed tomatoes are made very often by all housewives.
There is no precise recipe of the ingredients of the stuffing but the toasted breadcrumbs and the salted anchovies are customarily used.
Therefore when making stuffed tomatoes with the breadcrumbs and anchovies use your fantasy and whatever is available in your pantry and refrigerator: chopped cold cuts, cheeses, leftover vegetables, minced meat and or a can of tuna fish could be the ingredients of a new and different kind of filling! 
The stuffed tomatoes were made in my family following the successful recipe below.
I used the same recipe at La Focacceria Palermitana on Avenue U in Brooklyn. The patrons loved this “contorno” and it was a good companion to a dish of baked swordfish.

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 4 salted anchovies, filleted, rinsed and chopped
  • 4 ounces of breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup of your preferred grated cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablespoons of capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 8 green olives, rinsed, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, for drizzling

 

Preparation

The Tomatoes
Wipe off the tomatoes, discard steam without damaging the skin, and lay tomatoes steam side down.
Cut a round slice from the side opposite to steam; you will be using it as a lid top.
With a melon scoop, scrape out the flesh of the tomato, being careful not to break the skin.
Set aside the pulp and the juice.

The Stuffing
Sautee chopped onion with the olive oil, for about 3 minutes. Add the anchovies and with a wooden spoon continue mashing them and blend with onion.
Add the breadcrumbs and turn continuously until they are lightly toasted.  
Remove from flame and set aside to cool.
Chop the pulp and mix it with juice (you can use a food processor); in a bowl combine the pulp and juice with the cooled breadcrumb mixture, add the cheese (optional), parsley, basil, capers, olives and the salt-pepper to taste.

The Making
Sprinkle salt inside the hollow tomatoes, divide the stuffing equally and fill the tomatoes.

Cover with lids top, and arrange in a greased baking dish, standing the stuffed tomatoes with lid side up.

Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake at 375 degree for 45 minutes.

Serve the tomatoes warm or at room temperature.