Grilled Vegetable-Stuffed Tomatoes

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in the Aug. 3, 2012 issue of the Banner. 

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying my hand at my first real garden this year. My herbs have been growing like crazy, thanks to a hot summer and my 2-year-old garden helper, Jack, who waters the garden – and our neighbors – faithfully. But my vegetable results are mixed. I’ve proven myself quite proficient at growing cucumbers. The cherry tomatoes are supposedly doing well, but this is mostly hearsay. (Jack plucks the ripe tomatoes off the vine like they’re grapes, rinses them with the hose and then eats his entire harvest while standing next to the garden.) And my peppers? Well, I won’t quit my day job.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law generously shares her vegetables with us each year. She’s got a killer green thumb and we get tons of fresh produce in late summer. We’re always on the lookout this time of year for recipes that use a lot of tomatoes, zucchini and peppers. (Alas, despite my cucumber-growing prowess, I’m the only person in the house who eats them.)

This recipe uses all those vegetables and more. We started making these tomatoes a few years ago, and they quickly became one of the hubby’s favorites. He describes them as “a cornucopia of flavors.” Grilled vegetables are combined with basil, balsamic vinegar and cheese, and are stuffed inside hollowed-out tomatoes. Then the tomatoes are grilled until they start to soften. The whole mixture kind of smooshes together (yes, that’s the technical term) and tastes like summer in each bite.

A grill wok or pan comes in handy, for grilling both the vegetables and the tomatoes. It’s easy to move the tomatoes to and from the grill, and if the tomatoes get too soft and things start to fall apart, the grill pan helps minimize the collateral damage. Not that I know this from experience.