A golden, somewhat languid afternoon in the kitchen. Outside, the leaves are changing from green to shades of rust and ochre. Inside, the smell of garlic, rosemary and roasting peppers. There is no hurry today, just me and some ingredients that feel comfortable in each others company – olive oil, tomatoes, thyme, lemon, Parmesan, pasta and beans. All feels quietly right.
“The tomatoes that I cram with rice-sized pasta seasoned with basil and dark, sweet vinegar, will be served warm. The temperature is calm rather than fiery.” – Nigel Slater
Beefsteak Tomato with Orzo and Basil
Prep: 15 min / Cook: 40 min / Total Time: 55 min
- beefsteak tomatoes 4, large
- spring onions 6
- olive oil 6 tbsp
- garlic 3 cloves
- orzo 75g
- cherry tomatoes 300g
- basil leaves 8
- balsamic vinegar 2 tsp
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut a thick slice from the top of each of the tomatoes and set aside – these will act as a lid for the stuffed tomatoes. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the inner flesh and seeds into a bowl, discarding the hard, whitish core and saving the more interesting bits, such as the jelly and flesh. Put the tomato shells into a roasting tin.
3. Put a deep pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Finely slice the spring onions and soften them in the olive oil over a moderate heat. I know this sounds like a lot of oil, but bear with me. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and add to the softening onions. Salt the pasta water generously then add the orzo and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, till almost tender. Drain the pasta.
4. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and add them to the spring onions, then turn the heat off. They need no extra cooking. Add the drained pasta and season thoroughly with salt, pepper, the basil leaves left whole or shredded (as you wish) and the balsamic vinegar. Add some of the reserved tomato flesh (you will probably only need about half of it). Pile the pasta and tomato stuffing into the hollowed-out tomatoes, pouring in any remaining oil and juices from the pan.
5. Cover each tomato with its tomato lid, spoon any leftover mixture or extra tomato flesh around the outside, and bake for 35 minutes, until sizzling. Serve warm, with some of the leftover mixture from the baking dish at the side.