Tomatoes might be my favourite fruit. Endlessly versatile, they are an absolute mainstay in my kitchen and, whether canned or fresh, they form the basis of so many of my meals. Here, though, they really get to shine, becoming the vehicles for a simple but tasty quinoa filling. These stuffed tomatoes can be wheeled out for an easy lunch or served as part of a potluck dinner or buffet – tasting equally wonderful cold as fresh out of the oven makes them a great option for stress-free hosting. For a rather adorable (and delicious) starter, serve them nestled on top of some dressed leaves.
100g quinoa (any colour)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 courgette, diced
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
100g fresh or frozen sweetcorn kernels
50g frozen peas, defrosted
1 heaped tbsp vegan pesto, homemade or shop-bought
30g chopped cashews
6 large tomatoes
sea salt flakes and black pepper
small handful of mint, chopped
small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Add the quinoa to a saucepan and pour over the measured water. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave to steam, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa grains up with a fork and set aside (this can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept in a suitable container in the refrigerator until needed).
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.
Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, season generously and sweat for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the courgette and lemon zest and cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes until the courgette begins to soften.
Stir through the quinoa, sweetcorn, peas and lemon juice and season. Cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through before stirring through the pesto and cashews. Remove from the heat.
Use a sharp knife to cut the tops from the tomatoes (being sure to reserve them) and hollow out the seeds and membranes using a spoon.
Spoon the quinoa mixture into the tomatoes, pressing down gently on the filling as you go. Transfer to a baking dish, pop the tops back on, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season.
Bake for 20 minutes until lightly charred and blistered, then remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Divide among plates and garnish with a little chopped mint and parsley.
Extracted from Cook Share Eat Vegan by Áine Carlin (Mitchell Beazley, approx €23). Photograph by Danielle Wood.