Archive for the Vegan Category

Stuffed Tomatoes & Fresh Tomato Sauce

Posted in Gluten Free, Savory, Vegan | 4 Comments »

On a hot summer day, it’s nice to keep the oven off and to eat food that’s light, fresh, and maybe vegetarian.  The flavor of these tomatoes stuffed with brown rice and walnuts remind me of stuffed bell peppers, because the main ingredients used are similar minus the ground meat.  If you prefer, substitute cooked ground beef for the walnuts.            

Tomatoes Stuffed with Brown Rice & Walnuts 

  • Serves 2 for lunch & 4 for appetizer

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (2 lbs.)

Salt Blend:

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder


1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

½ cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup cooked brown rice

1.  Slice each tomato in half horizontally.  Remove and discard the seeds.  Run a knife around the inner edge of each tomato, leaving a wall thick enough to support the filling.  Then, scoop out the pulp/juice and reserve it to make Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce (recipe below).  Invert the tomatoes to drain any excess juice.     

2.  In a small bowl, mix the salt, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.

3.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté onions for 1 minute.  Add garlic and pepper and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in walnuts and cook for 1 minute.  Mix in the rice and ¾ tsp. of salt blend.  Then, sprinkle ¼ tsp. of salt blend over the hollowed-out tomato halves and fill them with the brown rice mixture.     


I strongly suggest that you use brown rice in this recipe because it imparts a nuttier flavor than white rice.  Also, brown rice is healthier than white rice because it’s high in fiber.  Remember, fiber keeps you full for a longer time, helps your digestive system run more smoothly, and has been associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.        

A few years ago, I was hesitant to incorporate brown rice into my diet because I didn’t think I would like the taste or the texture.  However, I decided to try brown Jasmine rice (from Trader Joe’s) because white Jasmine rice was the staple in my home.  I liked it, so I started to sample other kinds of brown rice and discovered that I enjoyed Nishiki medium grain brown rice the most because it’s moister than others.  Explore the many brown rice choices you have in your supermarket and I’m sure you’ll find the type of brown rice that is perfect for you.              

Homemade tomato sauce is easy to make, tastes better than store-bought, and is often healthier than pre-made sauce because it contains less salt.  In the following recipe, the amount of salt used to season the sauce is up to you.  A couple of pinches should do the trick.  The same is true for the addition of sugar.  As a Sicilian, sauce is not sauce unless it has some sugar in it!   

Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce 

  • Yield: 2/3 cup for 2 (1 cup each) pasta sides

½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1½ cup chopped tomato pulp, including juice (from 2 large beefsteak tomatoes)

4 large basil leaves

1 Tbsp. red wine

Salt and sugar, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Carefully pour in the tomatoes and add the basil leaves.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 18 minutes, until much of the juice has evaporated.  Stir in the red wine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.  Discard the garlic and season with salt and sugar to taste.  Toss with pasta and serve.