Tomatoes have long been a source of suspicion and derision.
Tomatoes were first cultivated by the Aztecs around the 8th Century, who had given the fruit the name “tomatl.” A few centuries later, the Conquistadors brought tomato seeds back with them to Europe. But despite its arrival in the Old Continent, the tomato was not yet for eating. European botanists placed the tomato alongside the Solanaceae family, a group of poisonous and narcotic plants, and came to view tomatoes as poisonous and hallucinogenic.
Even once edible, tomatoes still served as a source of derision. During the days of Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, it was common for theater-goers to voice their displeasure by arcing rotten tomatoes towards the stage. Criminals stockaded along the London streets were also known to inspire tomato rage.
Fortunately, by the late 18th Century, the tomato had moved from people’s hands and into their mouths. It was no longer being thrown at people, but rather, thrown into their soups and salads. In the United States, Thomas Jefferson was one of the first Americans to raise tomatoes as a food. Around the same time, the Creoles in New Orleans were using tomatoes to create their distinctive gumbos and jambalayas.
And in the modern day, this New Orleanian was making
Mozzarella Stuffed Tomatoes
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: 4 tomatoes
WHAT TO GRAB:
4 firm tomatoes (I used slicing tomatoes)
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (recipe here)
1 cup mozzarella
2 tablespoons diced shallots
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish.
2. Slice the top quarter of each tomato and discard. Using a tablespoon measure or a melon baller, carefully hollow out the tomato. To each tomato, add 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, followed by 1 teaspoon of diced shallots, 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and 1 or 2 tablespoons of torn mozzarella. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add enough bread crumbs to fill the tomato to just below the top. Top the bread crumbs with about 2 tablespoons of torn mozzarella.
3. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm!