Most of you know that I am a huge fan of the Two Fat Ladies TV series (the link will take you to a delightful video on amazon.com of the Two Fat Ladies learning to make cocktails at the Dorchester Hotel) which ran on public television years ago. Now that the FoodNetwork has launched the new Cooking Channel, I am thrilled to find that along with a whole slew of new cooking shows, they've revived many of my favorite classics, The Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child, and yes, Two Fat Ladies.
On a recent rainy Saturday afternoon, I was home watching and marveling as the Two Fat Ladies cooked....a pinch of this, a handful of that, no mention of measurements! On the particular show I watched that day, they made a simple stuffed tomato dish that I just had to try. Which says a lot, since I am not usually a fan of any stuffed vegetable given their tendency to end up as mushy, yucky, messes. See? Just the mention of stuffed vegetables and I turn into a petulant six year old discoursing on why she won't eat the green stuff.
However, such were the Ladies powers of persuasion and demonstration, that I took a chance. And the results were so incredibly delicious, I actually had a second. It was such a success that I wanted to share it with you.
To start, one of the beauties of this recipe is it's simplicity. It's easy to assemble, and you probably have all the ingredients in your fridge or pantry right now. Even if you don't, you can simply improvise and still achieve wonderful results.
For instance, in the Ladies recipe, they used ground beef, garlic and green onions. Since I also had some baby spinach and sliced mushrooms that I needed to use up, I threw those in as well, and got the added benefit of not only their additional flavor, but their vitamin/anti-oxident value. The beauty of this recipe is that with a little imagination, you could easily change up the ingredients to utilize what you have on hand, or your personal taste preferences.
Now to begin:
Preheat the oven to 375F.
First, use the best quality tomatoes you can find. Since it's summer, why not make a visit to your local Farmer's Market, or better yet if you've got a small garden out back, grow your own. What I discovered with this recipe is that the quality of the tomato really does make a difference. When I prepared this dish I used these little brown tomatoes I found at Whole Foods and impulsively bought simply because I'd never seen a brown tomato before. (turns out they are called by various names including 'black' heirloom tomatoes.). Whatever the name, they were incredibly delicious when used in this dish.
But I digress.....
Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides so that you create little bowls. Keep the tomato tops. Place the tomatoes into a shallow baking dish that you've sprayed with cooking spray or lightly brushed with oil.
In a frying pan, brown the ground beef, toss in the baby spinach, onions, garlic, and mushrooms, (you might need to add a tiny bit of olive oil to cook the spinach and mushrooms). Season with salt, pepper, a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, and any herbs that strike your fancy, I threw in some thyme from my herb garden.
Finally, gently spoon the beef mixture into the tomatoes and place their little hats on top.
Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.
And here's your reward! Delicious, delightful, easy to make and with two kinds of vegetables, good for you as well!