This side dish was described to me as a "Hot Latin Meal" by epicurious.com. I'm not sure exactly what this means, but it does get points for taste and presentation. If you've been paying attention, you'll see that I've done a stuffed tomato dish before. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is nothing wrong with stuffing a healthy vegetable full of cheese. Nothing at all. In fact, I recommend doing it as often as possible. And if you can, combine that cheese with mushrooms. Talk about tasty. I did find it interesting that this recipe billed itself as a salad because it uses "green leaves" as a garnish. Now that's a stretch if I ever heard one...
I served this with pork stuffed chile rellenos, a great combination!
Time: 30 minutes
1 cup sliced oyster, shiitake, or portobello mushrooms (I used dried ones which I rehydrated in hot water)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 ripe yellow or red medium size beefsteak tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 handful of mixed baby greens
Sweet Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on med-high. Add the shallots and when soft, add the mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme. Cook until soft. Set aside. (You can also complete this step ahead of time, refrigerate the mushrooms and then bring them to room temperature when you're ready to stuff the tomatoes).
Meanwhile prepare the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 325F. Using a sharp knife, slice the tops off the tomatoes either flat or in a zigzag pattern, you need them later so don't discard them. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the insides. Set aside. Place the tomatoes into a 1-inch baking pan (you may have to adjust their bottoms if they don't sit upright) with their tops. Bake until the skin starts to wrinkle, about 15 minutes.
When the tomatoes are finished, remove the tops and stuff with alternate layers of the mushroom mixture and the cheese. Place the tomatoes back into the oven (without their tops) just until the cheese starts to melt, about 5 minutes.
Top each tomato with a bit of the mixed baby greens and a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Cover with tomato tops and serve.
Sweet Shallot Vinaigrette
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the shallots and sugar, stirring constantly, until the shallots start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and combine the caramelized shallots, vinegar, and oil in a blender and mix until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for at least an hour before using. Use immediately or keep for up to 2 weeks.