My mom loves tomatoes. And I mean, like, loves them. A red, juicy summer tomato, sliced thick with just a little salt and pepper, is probably her favorite food. But she has also been known to snack on grape tomatoes — just plain, popped in her mouth all summer long, every summer — and basically every sandwich order she had ever placed, from a bagel with cream cheese to a fast-food burger, has ended with, “extra tomatoes, please.”
So I grew up eating — and loving — tomatoes. I didn’t get why other kids didn’t like tomatoes. In our house, they were a treat, not an obligation. (She also pulled this trick with bananas, which I equated with candy until age 6 because I was a dummy.)
My mom is halfway across the country, in steamy south Texas, and I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like. But she’s never far from my mind, particularly in the summer when I’m always snacking on tomatoes. (My mom is a principal at an elementary school — and was a 3rd grade teacher when I was growing up — so she never seems far away during summer, a vacation she shared with me and my sister for as long as I can remember.)
Even though she’s far away, a perfect, meaty cherry tomato can take me halfway across the country in an instant — to the backyard at my parents’ house, sitting in the sunshine with my mom while she reads a John Grisham book, soaking up our shared summer vacation with a perfectly sweet, summer-fresh tangy tomato. And, honestly, that’s what you should do with your tomatoes as we bid summer farewell. But if you’re in the mood for something a little more substantial, give this stuffed tomato recipe a shot. It’s summery and bright, but decadent and filling. The subtleties of a summer tomato will be enhanced — not overwhelmed — by the basil, cheese, and breadcrumbs.
- 2 tomatoes
- ½ c. + 2 T. breadcrumbs
- ¼ c. cream cheese, or other soft cheese
- Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the insides. Arrange the halves on a cake pan lined with aluminum foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Separate all of the liquid and seeds, and finely chop the inner ribs. Mix ½ c. of the breadcrumbs, basil, cheese, and tomato ribs. Use the mix to stuff the tomatoes and top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake the tomatoes for 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are toasted.