Olive and Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

Olive and goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

These little stuffed tomatoes were a real hit at our weekend cookout.  They’re cute to look at, and make a great pop-in-your-mouth appetizer.  Scooping out the insides of cherry tomatoes can be a little tricky, and time consuming, but well worth the effort.  The best tool for the job – I think – is a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon.  If using the small tomatoes is too labor intensive, then try using grape tomatoes or the Campari variety for an appetizer that is 2-3 bites in size.

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These tomatoes provide bright spots of color on a tray of appetizers, or also included on a cold salad plate.  For the diet conscious, its reassuring to know that each tomato is only 14 calories, with 1 g. fat, and  1 g. carbohydrate, but  43 mg. potassium, ( a good thing) and 21 mg. sodium, ( not great, but not too bad).  So these can be enjoyed pretty much guilt-free.  I hope you like them and will give them a try real soon.

OLIVE AND GOAT CHEESE STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES

Yield:  Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

  • 24  cherry tomatoes,  about 1 pint.
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped olives.  I used Calamata olives, but green olives may also be used.
  • 1 Tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped parsley

1.  Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each tomato.  If necessary, trim a sliver off the bottom so the tomato sits flat.  Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a small knife.

2.  Mash the goat cheese, olives, milk and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.  Fill each hollowed tomato with a generous 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the chopped parsley and more pepper, if desired.

Bright and appetizing!

Bright and appetizing!

SOURCE:  Eating Well

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Homemade Pesto

When we say pesto most of us think of basil as the primary ingredient.  But pesto(s) can be made from a variety of herbs, vegetables and condiments; or combinations there of.  What is needed is a food processor–and chop, chop–you can be enjoying the flavors of summer all year long.  I include the making of pesto in my series on kitchen basics, because it is so easy, and so useful in a great number of ways.

Depending on what flavor you have on hand you can do any of the following with it:  spread it on grilled corn, toss with grilled veggies for extra flavor, spoon over a spreadable cheese and serve with crackers for an appetizer, use in place of sauce on pizza, stir some into eggs for a seasoned omelet, add a spoonful to soup for an extra flavor hit.   See how versatile it is?  I’m sure you can think of other uses, too.

It is so easy to make that I am giving the general directions first, followed by the ingredients list for four (4) different kinds.  Each one makes  about 2 cups of pesto.  I like to divide mine up into 1/2 – 1 cup amounts and store in the freezer, removing a small container of it as needed.  The flavor stays as fresh as the day you made it.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  Period!  Did I say Easy?   Divide up into small jars or plastic  containers, and use creatively.

BASIL

1.  BASIL PESTO

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

CILANTRO

2.  CILANTRO PESTO

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

ROSEMARY

3.  OLIVE PESTO

  • 1  7 0z. jar pitted kalamata olives, drained
  • 1  7 oz. jar pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •  3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

OREGANO

4.  MIXED HERBS PESTO

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or  1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or 1  teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

SOURCE:   adapted from  Foods, Quick and Easy.