Whether it’s an appetizer or a meal, these garlic, spinach and 2-cheese stuffed tomatoes are a definite family favorite!
By now you know I have issues with some vegetables still even as an adult. If you compare my childhood vegetable intake to my adult vegetable intake it’s drastically different. Growing up the only vegetables I would even consider eating were corn, potatoes, and canned peas – ONLY canned peas.
Anything else you would have thought by the squinched-up face I made that you were trying to give me poison! I wanted no part of anything else. Now there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not nomming on a raw pepper – red, orange, or yellow though never green. To me green peppers are bitter.
I crave jicama, love raw carrots (still hate them cooked), and onions… yes ONIONS (not raw) are my friend. Caramelized onions are incredible. And let’s not forget about Brussels Sprouts!
But… I still have issues with tomatoes. Like I love tomato sauces and stuff like that but tomatoes in a chunk form… *shudder*. They just bother me.
Now I have grown up to the point where if they are on a white pizza and roasted that I’ll eat them. I think it’s because that liquid crap inside has dried up and ceased to exist. It’s the no-squish factor. Yeah I know, I’m weird but we all have our own idiosyncrasies.
Well I was bound and determined to incorporate more tomatoes into my diet.
- One medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates (including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar), and 1 gram of protein.
- Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid.
- Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene, and lutein.
- Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Some evidence suggests that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in blood glucose control, improve vasodilation and protect against retinopathy in diabetic patients and may even help preserve brain and nerve tissue.
- Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat, and reduces chronic inflammation.
Tomatoes are super healthy for you to say the least!
So yeah… why would I NOT have these in my diet?! With all those health benefits alone I’d be a fool not to!
I’ve been buying a lot of Campari tomatoes lately. I actually really like them roasted and put on white pizza. Or when I make my One Pot Pastabilities, it works beautifully in the dish. They aren’t quite bite-sized like cherry tomatoes but rather a 2-bite type of thing.
I took a small knife and cut into the top like I would cut into a pumpkin – on an angle. I wanted the hole on the top to be smaller than the inside as I was gutting the inside. Now these tomatoes while firm were super juicy on the inside.
And I’m sure by what I’m about to say next will have Italians ready to whack me but I gutted that stuff out and pitched it. I wanted the tomato to be hulled out with a thicker wall. I mean obviously, I had to hull them out to stuff them plus it gave me a reason to get rid of that squishy crap inside. *shudder*.
Perhaps one day I’ll eat a whole raw slice of tomato (highly doubtful) but as of right now…. no way. I don’t do squish!
I made 6 of them as like I said these were 2-bite-sized tomatoes and I wasn’t sure if I’d like them or not. What I learned from these was that you don’t want to hull out them to where the sides are thin. They collapse when roasted. Yes, they taste amazing but they aren’t visually appealing. To hull them out I used a teeny melon baller but you can use a teeny teaspoon (think a baby spoon).
Prior to stuffing these, I misted them with olive oil and just gave a very light sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh black pepper. I stuffed them just enough to where there was a slight mound on top. As they were cooking you could smell them and folks let me tell you what. They smelled amazing! They smelled…Italian. I know that’s not a real ‘smell’ as it’s kinda like my saying it smells like the number 7 but once you smell it you’ll get it.
Think about a great Italian restaurant and you’re in or near the kitchen. You can smell those fresh tomatoes, the cheese, and garlic scents wafting through the air. It’s sensual and intoxicating.
These cook up in no time and honestly, they may convert me to a tomato lover. Since the squishy stuff was gone what you’re left with is this tomato-y rich vessel stuffed with amazing hot and cheesy spinach filling.
The tomato definitely adds another level of flavor to the dish and seriously rocks it out! I’ve made these 2 more times since I took these pictures and the last time I put lump crab meat in the spinach mixture and oh dear God you wanna talk AMAZING?!?! Holy crap it was awesome!
Like this is one of those dishes where it can easily be an appetizer as they are awesome hot or room temp or as a meal. If you’re going for a meal I would go with a larger tomato – maybe beefsteak. You could even top it with some buttered bread crumbs as well if you wanted a crispy crust on top.
So for those tomato-haters, there is hope out there for you, for me. This recipe is definitely one that can win you over and take you to the mater-side!Print
- 24 Campari tomatoes or smaller beefsteak tomatoes *Note: can use larger tomatoes for more of a dinner versus an appetizer
- 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry of excess water
- 8 oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup green onions
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, rack in the middle. Lightly spray a baking dish (a 9×13” glass pan works well here). In a food processor finely chop garlic and green onions. In a medium bowl add the spinach, cream cheese, mayo, parmesan, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, and salt. Use a fork to blend all the ingredients together. Add fresh black pepper to taste and set aside.
- Cut the tops off each tomato, and using a paring knife or small spoon, remove the seeds to hollow the tomato. Hollow it out like you would a pumpkin. You want the walls of the tomato thick so they don’t collapse when baking.
- Mist each tomato with olive oil and give a very light sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
- Taking 1-2 heaping teaspoons of mixture fill each tomato. You want the mixture to slightly mound over top of the rim of the tomato. Place the stuffed tomatoes in the dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top of each tomato.
- Bake for another 7-9 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven and serve!
To make a crispy crust on this mix up 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs with 1 teaspoon melted butter. Sprinkle a little on top of each stuffed tomato. Bake as normal.
To make these fancier, meatier, add in jumbo lump crab or cooked shredded chicken to the spinach mixture.