Basil and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes

It simply had to be: a recipe for this culinary stalwart of tomato cuisine. These are great served on their own or even grilled in their foil parcels as part of a barbecue. Remember, always use fresh herbs.

Makes 1 large stuffed tomato*

Prep time: 25 minutes Baking time: 30 minutes

1 large beefsteak tomato, about

8-10oz (250-280g) 1 large egg, beaten 1 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp olive oil V2 tsp sugar

Basil and Parmesan filling

2 tbsp shredded basil leaves

1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp finely chopped rinsed and drained capers 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

V2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest salt and freshly ground black pepper pinch of sugar salt and freshly ground black pepper

* It is easy to make this recipe for more people. Simply adjust the amounts according to how many tomatoes you are using and how large they are.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Carefully slice the top off the tomato to make a lid. Core and scoop out the insides, removing the seeds and jellylike juice (p138). Put the tomato shell and its lid cut-side down in a colander.

2 To make the filling, mix together the basil, parsley, capers, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Season generously with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Combine with the beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Fill the tomato shell until it is well stuffed, cover with its lid, and place right-side up in a baking dish lined with a piece of foil.

3 In a small bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and 2 tbsp water. Pour over the tomato, and enclose in the foil to make a parcel. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until soft and gooey. Serve on its own, accompanied by a peppery salad of arugula and watercress, or as a side dish.

Variations Use 1 tbsp coarsely chopped tarragon, 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tbsp finely chopped rinsed and drained capers, 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, and 1 tbsp half and half for the filling. Season, and make as above. Or try mixing the scooped-out flesh, seeds, and jellylike juice with 1 tbsp chopped dill, 1 tbsp shredded mint leaves, 1 tbsp finely chopped onion or shallot, 1 tbsp chopped toasted pine nuts, 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of sugar. Mix together, season, and make as above. For an extra, meaty dimension to the second filling, add some sauteed ground lamb.

Work well with

Beefsteak (pp52-63)

Standard globe (pp22-35)

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