Many people observe meatless Mondays, but for me and many other people of Indian origin, that day is Tuesday. There is a religious significance to this chosen day of the week, but if I am to be truthful here, I am not entirely sure why that is and for me it’s one of those inherited customs that I happily observe. My meatless Tuesdays leave me feeling great satisfaction from putting my carnivorous habits aside for a day. I feel less weighty and, let’s just say that the system just works better.
On Tuesdays I make a real effort with my veggies, to the point of celebration. Why not, in a meat eaters home, veggies seldom get that chance. This week I am going to make stuffed tomatoes. Cooking stuffed vegetables is such a handy method because a little stuffing goes a long way and works like a charm at family gatherings. But apart from the mileage it offers, the flavor of both the vegetable and its stuffing take on new shades, new character, new textures and new flavors. In the heat of the oven, the vegetable cup breaks down and releases their moisture making it fork tender whilst accentuating the taste of the stuffing. For this dish, I used long grain rice to absorb those juices, chickpeas for some protein, some dried cranberries for a little chewy touch, Parmesan cheese which pairs very well with grated ginger (an un-obvious matrimony yielding a fruitful relationship). The tomatoes take on those comfort flavors from the stuffing and the stuffing happily take on the sweet and tart juices from the tomato. Amazing what a little give and a little take can do.
Usually meat eaters complain that a vegetarian meal is neither wholly gratifying nor filling. That is understandable but it doesn’t have to be that way. If a vegetarian meal incorporates a balance of protein, vegetables, grain and
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fat, the experience of a vegetarian can leave you feeling very happy and more than satiated.
Recipe For Stuffed Tomatoes
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes
- 1 medium-sized onions, finely diced
- 1 tbsp. grated ginger
- 1 handful Raisins/ cranberries
- 1 cup rice, boiled, ¾ through
- 2 tbsp. tomato puree
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. any nuts (pine nut, cashews, walnuts), finely chopped
- ½ can chickpeas
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1) Cut the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides – Reserve the caps as they will be used as lids. Rub oil around the outside and season the inside with salt
2) Sweat the onions and ginger until tender, add, the tomato puree and cook out until it deepens in color. Add the par-cooked rice and toss until evenly coated
3) Combine the rice mixture with the remaining ingredients
4) Fill the tomato cups with the rice mixture and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes soften and the rice is cooked through
Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes