Naturally, now that I’ve totally missed the deadline for the Post’s annual summer tomato recipe contest, I found myself with a big handful of home-grown Juliette tomatoes–from my boss’ garden, no less. Given this somewhat belated bounty’s very special provenance, I felt the need to do something special with them. As I toyed with them in my office trying not to just eat them there and then, it occurred that they’re a lovely size for stuffing–petite oblongs just shy of 2″ long. Perfect for a nice cocktail nibble.
But… the stuffing. I knew what I didn’t want in the filling for my summery tomatoes: anything bready, cheesy, hot or heavy. I did, however, want to include sundried tomato to punch up the flavor. What else could improve tomato but another form of tomato? Well, how about some basil, garlic, and briny caper? To stick it all together cream cheese could have been just the thing, but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat them. Boo. So I turned to cannellini beans, my secret weapon for turning just about anything (savory) vegan. With a tomato-y riff on my beloved Tuscan bean dip, I’d have a tasty filling for my fancy fresh produce. Excellent.
I thought these turned out really rather well; the bean-based filling felt creamy and just a little of the sundried tomato oil lent a rich, almost cheesy savor that highlighted the crisp freshness of the tomato shell. These would be perfect as part of an antipasti spread or as part of a vegan or vegetarian composed plate.
If your boss isn’t about to start leaving cute little tomatoes on your desk, I’d suggest looking for ones of a similar size volumetrically. Regular old cherry tomatoes–none of this super-sweet, teeny-tiny “grape” tomato nonsense–would be delightful if you can find ones that aren’t too small. The slightly larger “Campari” tomatoes would work too, even if they’d need two bites to polish off. The filling is stiff enough so that’s not a worry.
Summer Stuffed Tomatoes
1 1/2 lb Juliette (or other bite-sized) tomatoes
3 oz sundried tomatoes (in oil)
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic
1 14oz can cannellini beans
1 scant tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs fresh basil leaves, packed
1 tbs capers
Tiny basil leaves & additional capers for garnish
Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the tomatoes. Using the point of a vegetable peeler, carefully scoop out the seeds and inner pulp, leaving the outer flesh and skin intact. Drain, cut side down, on a paper towel-lined plate while making the filling.
Slice the sundried tomatoes into ribbons, taking care to remove any tough stemmy bits as you go. Reserving the oil, put the cut-up tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor. Add the lemon juice. Using a ceramic ginger grater, grate the garlic into a fine pulp–you’re aiming for about 1/2 tsp. If you don’t have a ginger grater, mince the garlic very finely with a pinch of salt till it’s as fine as you can get it. Add the garlic to the food processor. Rinse and drain the beans very well and add to the food processor. Blend till fairly smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add about 2 tbs of the reserved sundried tomato oil and the salt and pepper. Continue to blend till quite smooth, but stiff. Toss in the basil (reserving some of the tiny inner leaves) and pulse to incorporate. Add the drained and rinsed capers and pulse to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings (keep in mind that this is a fairly strong mixture).
Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip–about 1 cm in diameter–and fill with the stuffing mixture. Pipe into the prepared tomatoes, and dot with a caper and tiny basil leaf.