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Perfect Summer Stuffed Tomatoes

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This is a fast, fun, and ridiculously delicious way to prepare the last of summer's beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Make sure you choose tomatoes that are fairly round and symmetrical -- a plate filled with several different colored varieties will be beyond gorgeous. Stuffed tomatoes are also great for getting rid of leftover bits of veggies that are hanging around in your fridge -- I chose onion, mushrooms, and swiss chard because that's what I had on hand, but feel free to mix it up with whatever you've got -- leftover rice, bell peppers, carrots, spinach, feta cheese, whatever!

These tomatoes are excellent when paired with a thick juicy steak -- or you can omit the anchovies for a vegetarian treat!

Perfect Summer Stuffed Tomatoes
serves four

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4 large heirloom tomatoes
1 medium white onion
3-4 cloves garlic
12 oz button mushrooms
1 large bunch swiss chard
1 can anchovies
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional parm for garnish
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Wash and drain your veggies. Preheat oven to about 375 degrees. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and cut out the stem part, making sure to preserve the top so it will create a nice cap for your stuffing later. Scoop out the insides of the tomato with a spoon -- make sure to get all the pips out! Set the tomatoes aside in a baking dish.

Prepare your stuffing: finely chop the garlic, onion, mushrooms, and swiss chard. If you include the chard stems, then you will want to saute them first with the garlic and onions (since they're much tougher than the leaves). Saute the onion and garlic first until soft, then add about half the can of anchovies (less or none if you're not into the whole anchovy thing or you want to keep it vegetarian). Add the mushrooms and soften, then add the swiss chard leaves last (they cook down the fastest). Once it's all nice and soft, take it off the heat and let it kick it for a while.

Add the cheese, mix it up, yay fun get your hands in there!!! Now for the packing: stuff your filling into each tomato, not too overflowing, just to the top. Once you've got your filling in, sprinkle each tomato with a layer of bread crumbs -- that'll make the filling nice and crispy on top. If you've got leftover anchovies, you can lay one or two across the top of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle some olive oil all over the tomatoes.

Then put the tomato tops back on over the mixture. There should be an indentation in the tomato caps where you cut out the stem part -- this is where you're gonna stuff the rest of your parmesan cheese (you did save some for garnish, right?). This will make a nice little melty parmesan core atop your stuffing.

Now you're ready to stick them in the oven -- about thirty-five or forty minutes will make them soft, oozy, and oh so delicious. Let them sit for about five minutes to cool, then enjoy with a steak and a glass of red wine!

Photo of heirloom tomatoes at the Pasadena Farmer's Market by namlhots via Flickr.