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Summer Tomato Recipes

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Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are only ever good in summer. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, winey, flavor of a vine ripe tomato – as there is nothing as disappointing as the dull, insipid, lifeless flavor of a cold storage tomato shipped from halfway around the world. I don’t eat those and strongly suggest that you don’t either. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible.

Tomato Sandwich

Tomato Sandwich

One of my favorite ways of eating a tomato in summer is served sliced on white bread with mayonnaise. No chiffonade of basil or tender leaves of oregano. No artisan sourdough bread. No extra virgin olive oil. No hand-pounded garlic aioli. No hand-harvested sea salt. No lemon zest. Not even a slice of crisp applewood smoked bacon. Out, out damn spots of cracked Tellicherry pepper!  I want cheap, off the grocery store shelf, white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth. I want it slathered with store-bought mayonnaise, paired with meaty, thick, juicy slices of tomato. I cut the sandwich in half and eat it over the kitchen sink to best catch the juices dripping down my chin. Now, that’s summer!

Check out this article in the Washington Post where I admit absolute Tomato Sandwich heresy!! 

Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes

Vegetable or a Fruit?

Summer vegetables are at their peak! Okra, corn, summer squash, and peppers are all in season. These vegetables thrive in the heat of summer. Tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all members of the nightshade family. There’s something a bit sexy about those nightshades; maybe it’s the deadly, yet beautiful part….

Tomatoes are, in fact, a fruit as are many summer “vegetables.” Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant.  However, these vegetables’ affinity for other savory ingredients means that they are usually classed as a vegetable.

Peppers and tomatoes marry well together. There’s an expression, “What grows together goes together.” This is a perfect example of that philosophy. This week’s main recipe Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes is packed with summer produce! Peppers can be tricky because the primary source of capsaicin comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds. However, removing the seeds in effect can also remove the pith. Need some help? Check out my quick Insta video on How to Remove the Seeds of a Pepper.

Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes

Tomato Recipe Round-Up

As tempting as it may be, there are lots of recipes to try with tomatoes in the summer, not just a mayo-kissed sandwich. Here’s a bushel basket of tomato recipes for you to enjoy.

Virginia Willis

Weight Watchers

I recently posted a before and after photo on Instagram. I’ve now lost 60 pounds, and well, I look quite different. A deluge of people responded and I also had a slew of DMS, texts, and emails. It seems that it really touched a lot of folks. Weight is an obstacle for many people. A lot of messages were of asking for tips, techniques, and recipes. I have been sliding more WW-friendly recipes every week or so, (like my Angel Food Cake and even the Snicker’s Chocolate Pudding) but not seriously focusing on sharing why.

After the response, it seems that’s what a lot of people really want. So, I am going to try to share more of what’s going on in my life and on my table. The reason I do so well with WW is that it doesn’t feel like deprivation. I can have cake and pudding. No, I can’t have them on the same day and it’s not wise to eat them every day, but I can have cake. This week, my go-to dessert has been of freshly sliced, tree-ripe Georgia peaches, and a judicious dollop of creme fraiche. Creme fraiche is ultra-indulgent — but it’s incredible. I make choices with other foods so that I can have “incredible” on my plate. It’s all about choices. And, I have learned losing weight is really about “gaining self.”

One of my strategies is to eat a lot of vegetables. (Zero points!) This recipe for Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes can be a main or a side dish. It’s packed with fresh herbs and summer vegetables, keeping the points low and flavor high! I love it and hope you and your family do, too.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomato

Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes

You can mix and match whatever vegetables you want to use; it is important to cook them first so the whole things doesn't become a watery mess. Amp up the heat with more chilies, eggplant would be great, too. If you don't have one ingredient, simply use what you have. And, I love goat cheese, but any soft melty cheese would do.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: main, Side Dish, vegetable
Cuisine: French, Southern
Keyword: stuffed tomato, tomato, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 spritz nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic very finely chopped
  • 1 small summer squash chopped
  • Scraped kernels from 1 ear fresh sweet corn
  • 1 small sweet chile cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 hot chile cored, seeded, and diced, or to taste
  • Handful okra thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese or cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons benne seeds
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. To form tomato shells, with a serrated knife, slice off the tops of the tomatoes and remove their cores. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes to create a shell, transferring the juices and pulp to a small bowl. Using your hands, squish the pulp and seeds until smooth but slightly chunky. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, to make the filling, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved tomato mixture and cook until it’s absorbed into the corn and the skillet is dry, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the tomato shells, cut-side up, in a small casserole dish. Spoon some of the filling into the prepared tomatoes. (You’ll probably have left over; it can be eaten separately as a side dish.) Sprinkle over the benne seeds. Bake until the tomatoes are heated through, about 10 minutes. Scatter over the chopped herbs and serve immediately.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 1 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Congrats on your health journey! I love this time of year with vine ripened tomatoes. So delicious.

  2. Anonymous

    YES! That is the way to eat a tomato sandwich. Miss the days you came to Foxfire in Greenville SC.

  3. Nancy Strathearn

    Virginia, You look absolutely MARVELOUS!!!!!!! I so miss CookWares and your classes.

  4. Lisa Canino

    Thank you, Virginia for reminding me of simple pleasures! I woke early this morning to get fresh tomatoes from the farm stand and just inhaled my tomato, mayo, and grocery isle white bread sandwich. With a few Lay’s potato chips and a glass of sweet tea, it was heaven!
    You look great and I bet you feel even better.
    Looking forward to trying the veggie stuffed tomato recipe. Yum.
    Stay well.

  5. Teresia Rice

    Just wow! You look incredible…way to go!!

  6. Bonnie

    that’s the exact sandwich I grew up with — Wonder bread, mayo and fresh tomatoes! The best! BTW, WW points for the Angel food cake — making it in cupcakes would be brilliant! 2 pounds to go to get back to my WW Lifetime after indulging though the first 3 months of quarantine!

    1. Virginia Willis

      Thanks so much for reading. Yes, 4 points for bread + 1 point for mayo! Worth every digit!! Best VA

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