Much Ado About Stuffing

Much Ado About Stuffing

Stuffed Vegetables in Roasted Tomato Sauce


 It is traditional to serve Stuffed Vegetables for the holiday of Sukkot. The vegetables within the vegetables represent  the bounty of the holiday. Of course, it makes sense, when the farmer’s markets are overflowing with the wonders of the late summer harvest. Peppers of all colors and Scoville Units, weird squash, eggplant, cabbage, whatever.

1. Assorted heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled liberally with olive oil,  sea salt and pepper, roasted with unpeeled cloves of garlic. 450 degrees until they look like this… about 45 minutes. Cool. Slip garlic out of peels.

2. Blend tomatoes, and any of the accumulated juices in blender until smooth. The puree will be very thick. You can thin it with some water, milk, cream, chicken stock, or tomato juice.  This is a wonderful thing as the base of a soup or a pasta sauce.  See the end of the post for a picture of it as a soup with fresh basil. (I always ask the guys at the farm stands for their ugliest tomatoes, and store as much as I can of this at the end of the summer)
3. Prepare an assortment of vegetables into cute little containers for stuffing. I used a variety of squash and peppers. Some of the peppers were actually quite hot, and they turned out to be the most popular players on the team.  Hollow out the squash with a small spoon or a melon baller, leaving a good shell of about 1/4 inch all around. Prop them up in a baking pan.

4. Prepare stuffing.
For this you can use any stuffing that you like. Be creative or be safe. Saute the chopped up flesh of the squash and pepper trimmings with onions, peppers, and any other vegetables you like/have (certainly: celery, carrots etc.). To this you can add some partially-cooked rice (brown, jasmine, whatever) couscous, quinoa, bread cubes. or bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and fresh herbs. Mix in a half- cup or so of the roasted tomato mixture for moisture and seasoning. For this dish,
I used some of the house made Spicy Tunisian Sausages that I found at the  Kosher Marketplace in NYC, removed from the casings, crumbled, and cooked, so I will not be adding cheese, but you can do it your own way. I have done this with cubes of cheddar and it was delicious. Cook it all up and let it cool off enough to handle.

5. Carefully fill up the vegetables with the stuffing mixture, and gently pour enough of the the thinned tomato sauce around the vegetables so it comes about half way up the vegetables.
6. Cover well and seal up with foil, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until its all bubbly and the squash and peppers are tender.
Look above for a picture of the Roasted Tomato Soup that I made from the same process as the sauce. Idea: make up a super size batch of the roasted tomato puree, and be all ready for the next dinner or lunch. This soup ROCKS, and if you eat it you will practically live forever, what with all that lycopene, and all the goodness from the phenols in the olive oil and the cardio-protectiveness of the flavanoids in the fresh basil. Now for the SUPER health/taste treat, add on these Kale Chips– so delicious floating on top of that soup. Try this even if you (like me) think you don’t like kale.
For the soup, Roast the Tomatoes as above- puree very well in the blender.
Add chicken stock, vegetable stock, water, cream or milk to thin to your liking.
Thicker soup is heartier, more rustic, great for lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Thinned with chicken stock it is rich and velvety, refined enough for a dinner party.

Kale Chips:
Wash kale (any kind, or collards, or whatever leafy green thing calls your name from the farmstand or the bins at Whole Foods). and remove the heavy stems. Spread out in one layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with about a Tablespoon of olive oil and some sea salt, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. You do have to watch it, the timing is approximate, because I have found that each batch of kale seems to cook differently. You want it crisp, like a potato chip.

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