Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

In Kansas City at the Blue Bird Bistro I ate Quinoa Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes, above. I was surprised by the dish, as it was served cold, the tomatoes were uncooked. The cooked and cooled quinoa was mixed with chopped fresh herbs, shredded cucumbers and carrots, and probably other ingredients, but I can't recall. It was refreshing and summer-like.

At the farmers market the end of last week, I found orange tomatoes, which I don't usually see there. I still had a few left, plus some red ones, so I decided to try stuffing them. Other ingredients I had picked up at the market that I still had on hand were leeks, red onion and a red bell pepper, so I used those and peas with Inca Red Quinoa for my filling. Other ingredients would also have been good in the mixture: shredded carrots, sliced green onions, chopped green bell peppers, zucchini, etc. Really the possibilities are endless. I baked the stuffed tomatoes, as I was wanting a warm dish to ward off the stormy weather here.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes
hot or cold

1 cup Inca Red Quinoa (or regular or a mix of the two)
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, sliced and minced and washed well
1/2 a red bell pepper, minced (or green, etc)
1/2 a small red onion, minced (or other type)
1 cup frozen peas (or other veggie)
salt and pepper
4 to 8 tomatoes
shredded cheese, optional

1. Rinse the quinoa well in a fine mesh strainer. Heat a skillet and stir the wet quinoa around in the dry skillet until the quinoa dries and slightly toasts.
2. Heat the water and broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the dry quinoa and simmer on low, covered, for about 15 minutes.
3. Heat the olive oil in the skillet. Add the leeks, onion and pepper (and optional additional vegetable) and saute until tender. If using frozen peas, stir them in after the other veggies are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. If the quinoa still has some liquid, simmer the mixture until most of the moisture evaporates.

If you want a cold dish:

Let the filling cool. Core and carefully slice the tomatoes into quarters without cutting all the way through to the bottom. Spread the sections open and using a spoon, scrape out some of the seeds. Fill the opening with the quinoa mixture and serve at room temperature or slightly cold. See first photo above for presentation.

If you want a hot dish:

Core the tomatoes without cutting all the way through the bottom, leaving complete intact bowls. Carefully, scrape out as much of the inside pulp and seeds as possible. Stuff the tomatoes with as much of the quinoa mixture as you can, careful not to break the tomato bowl. Place the stuffed tomatoes on a greased baking pan. Optionally sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees until the tomatoes are tender, but still hold together. See picture below.

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