Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stuffed Tomatoes

I try not to let the real world intrude too much on this blog. But sometimes the real world won't be ignored. I've had pretty heavy thoughts today and debated whether to post this recipe or not. Because who cares about stuffed tomatoes when real things, bad things, happen in life?

I set aside 1 hour this morning to reflect on that day 10 years ago. And, I assumed after that hour, my thoughts would return to happy sunny skies and tomatoes and yoga and I'd be on my merry way. But the real world doesn't work that way. Reflection continued and these thoughts kept intruding on my day as I folded laundry, made my bed, went for a walk, and practiced yoga.

Ten years ago today, I was exactly 1 week into my first real job out of college. Logging into my computer on the top floor of a downtown Minneapolis skyscraper, I was frustrated that the internet wasn't working. My boss told me about the planes. I spent the next hour with strangers in the skyway, watching a TV mounted on the wall in some insurance office or something, tears streaming uncontrollably down my cheeks as those towers collapsed.

I knew that our world had changed, but I didn't understand how or what it all meant. Our building closed for the day and I rode the bus home in a state of shock, translating news from my headphones to other passengers. When I reached home, I was perplexed to find my roommates blithely throwing a frisbee in the front yard, like any other day. Didn't they get it? I planted myself in front of the TV and cried the rest of the day away.

Looking back, I probably would have cried more had I realized how bad things would get. As Forrest Gump taught me, shit happens. Economies crumble. Politics become horribly polarized. Countries go to war. Natural disasters happen. Beautiful, smart, witty, creative people get evil diseases they don't deserve (excuse my language here, but just fuck ALS and fuck cancer, OK?).

So, why am I still posting a stuffed tomato recipe today? Because...

I am alive.


I am healthy.

These are two things I no longer take for granted. I don't want to pollute my body with any more Nacho Cheese Doritos and Cherry Coke - I did that in excess for the first 30 years of my life and I guarantee the next 30 will be dramatically different. When the world seems overwhelmingly hopeless, I remember that things can change for the better - and I know this because I have changed for the better. The best way I can think of to take all this bad shit and turn it into something less awful is to honor my alive healthy body with good nutritious food and some physical activity.

So, yeah, this is still just a silly food blog, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something productive for myself when I post a photo and recipe of meal that was seasonal, local, satisfying, and tasted good. Go ahead and stuff something good in a ripe tomato. This is primetime tomato season so you really can't go wrong.

Stuffed Tomatoes
makes 4 stuffed tomatoes

1/2 cup white beans, drained (I used leftover Bean/Veg/Grain Gratin, after performing a rutabaga-ectomy)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup hard cheese, grated finely (like parmesan)
1/2 cup sauteed onion, carrot, kale (optional, it was included in my gratin so I didn't need it)
splash of your favorite vinegar (mine is currently raspberry vinegar)
4 large local in-season tomatoes

Slice the top off the tomatoes (about 1/4 of the tomato, leaving about 3/4 behind). Use a serrated knife to cut around the inside and a spoon to scoop out the guts. Chop up the guts, including the tomato top and mix this together with your beans, quinoa, tuna, cheese, and vegetables. Season with vinegar, salt, and pepper. I preferred this mixture after it had been refrigerated for 30 minutes and served cold.

Season your hollowed out tomato cups with salt and pepper. Scoop in as much filling as you can, then serve.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cherry Tomato Tart


  1. Probably my favorite post you have ever written.

    I also remember sitting in the towers of a financial institution of my first job in MPLS (or at least the one I was willing to accept as my first job) hearing first hand that the towers were collapsing before they even began to cover it on the news. I left early that day and ate PINTS and I repeat PINTS of ben and jerry's. Wallowing in the sorrow of humanity, feared for what would happen to America and all the while not recognizing all I was scared of in my own life.....10 years later I find myself sitting on this ISLAND called NYC that experienced so much trauma....relishing/reliving, along w/ the rest of the city, all of those moments that have brought me far I have come yet how far I have to go. What friends, life, love and the pursuit of happiness really mean to me and I thank god (interpret as you will the almighty, allah, wankan tankan) that I am blessed to be surrounded by those people and things and am able to continue to work on such that will bring me and those who walk this earth with me happiness and well being. So by all means, stuff a tomato, find a local goat cheese to compliment a salad, cook halibut in coconut milk and eat flourless chocolate cake. and all the while, give thanks to the amazing grace that keeps on gives and be a part of what keeps that grace giving. xo -cassandra

  2. Cass - I remember calling you that day and asking if I was overreacting. I'll never forget, you told me NO, anyone who doesn't take this hard simply doesn't comprehend the magnitude of what has just happened.

    Thank you for always being my barometer for what is right in this world. XOXO Ali

  3. Back at ya sister! all my love headed towards you!! XOXO!!

  4. Hey

    This was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.