Meat Free Monday

I am loving today’s recipe from the wonderful Martha Rose Shulman, author of  “The Very Best of Recipes for Health. I successfully grew basil this summer on my kitchen window sill. It lasted all summer and I added it liberally to my pasta dishes. I adore the smell of basil, which is an excellent source of vitamin K, and a very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A.  This dish would make tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Basil


  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or Mediterranean pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes


1. To make the pesto, turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When it is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil to the food processor, and process until smooth and creamy. Add the Parmesan, and pulse until well combined.

You can also use a mortar and pestle. Add the basil leaves gradually, and mash with the pestle. Add the pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Mash to a paste with the basil. Work in the olive oil and the Parmesan.

2. Using a paring knife, cut thin slices from the tops of the cherry tomatoes. Use a grapefruit spoon or small spoon to scoop the seeds and flesh from the center of each tomato. Lightly salt the hollowed out tomatoes if desired, and place them, cut side down, on a rack to drain for 15 minutes. Fill with the pesto, arrange on a platter and serve. Refrigerate or freeze any excess pesto.

Variation: Warm stuffed tomatoes with pesto: Use six to eight medium tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops off the tomatoes, and scoop or gently squeeze out the seeds. Fill with pesto, and place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Heat through for 15 to 20 minutes until warm; the tomatoes should still be intact. Serve.

Advance preparation: You can hollow out the tomatoes several hours ahead; the filled tomatoes will hold for an hour or two in the refrigerator. The pesto will keep for weeks in the refrigerator if you cover it with a film of olive oil. It freezes well without the cheese; mix in the cheese when you thaw it.