Greek ‘Tabbouli’-Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

The first thing you should know about this post is that I’m ‘phoning it in’. I’m currently ‘on location’ in Seattle, where an epic childhood summer is being played out by my two children. I think I’m the over-worked and under-appreciated Assistant Director in this scenario, as my 4 year-old daughter is most definitely occupying the Director’s chair.

I’ll write a full report when we get back, but for now I’m going to share with you the recipe I submitted to Vale Life magazine just before leaving on holiday. I think you (those of you in the Northern hemisphere anyway) will like that it’s a very light and summery dish and easy, easy, easy. No slaving in a hot kitchen over this one.

Actually, though, the weather was horrible before we left England. So, when the editor asked me for a ‘summery recipe’, I looked up at the grey clouds hanging ominously over our heads and chortled. Half of me was thinking ‘why bother?’, but the other half waxed philosophical, ‘well perhaps if summer won’t come to our gardens it can at least come to our tables.’

To me, nothing evokes summer like Mediterranean food. Immediately lemon and mint spring to mind, quickly followed by garlic, olives and fresh salads. And with Olympic fever raging on both sides of the Atlantic, I thought a nod to Mount Olympus was in order. Besides, kissing up to Apollo et al. might not be such a bad thing when it’s sunshine you’re after.

So I decided to stuff these stunning Coeur de Boeuf heirloom tomatoes, uncooked, with a Greek-inspired spin on tabbouli, a Middle Eastern chopped salad. Substituting quinoa for the traditional bulgar and fresh mint for parsley, I also diced up fresh bell peppers, Kalamata olives and feta cheese (which you could easily omit if you’re vegan). These self-contained salads make a flavor-packed light lunch or can be served alongside grilled meats at your next, dare I say, barbecue?

Which brings me back to the oppressive weather. Things apparently got better over in the UK, and have been fabulous here in Seattle since we arrived (knock on wood), so it seems perhaps the gods took pity on us mortals after all. Or are just fans of Greek food…

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Greek 'Tabbouli'-Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup dry quinoa
  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes
  • ¼ cup diced feta
  • ¼ cup diced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Handful fresh mint, chopped (reserve 4 small sprigs for garnish)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Drizzle of good olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat stock to boiling and add quinoa. Reduce heat to low and cover, simmering until all liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Set aside and let cool.
  2. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and gently hollow them out, making sure not to break the skins.
  3. When the quinoa has cooled, fluff it lightly with a fork, then mix in the other ingredients and season to taste.
  4. Gently stuff the salad into the tomatoes and garnish with fresh mint.
Notes
1. Measurements are in cups because there’s no real need for precision here. Use a teacup or coffee mug and adjust to taste. 2. You can use bulgar, couscous or rice instead of quinoa – simply cook according to the instructions on the packet. 3. Choose any large, fragrant tomatoes and don’t store them in the fridge or they’ll lose their flavour.