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Stuffed tomatoes and breaking out of the box

2015 September 17
by Rachel Turiel

I imagine that while we humans see a sunflower as a complex assemblage of botanical moving parts, a honeybee sees it simply as a yellow powder-box of pollen. Those wildly breathtaking morning glories, pole-dancing up our arches, are likely, to a hummingbird, nothing more complicated than deep-throated bull’s-eyes of nectar. Ready, aim, fire.


My children, I’m certain, once saw me as simply a pair of milk boobs stapled onto two arms (soothing voice piped in from somewhere north). And now, what? Maybe a dispenser of strange meals not found on TV (soup from a roadkill deer ankle bone, anyone?). Also perhaps, a slightly annoying booster of Communication for All! (“You must be really disappointed, honey,” I told Col after having to extract him from soccer practice 15 minutes early. “That’s not working, Mom he sighed back).

And Dan? Well lets just say, whatever Dan sees when he looks at me has kept our relationship well-spiced for 20 years. My friend, Kristi, who has a similarly appreciative husband, agrees that having a partner who’s like a cross between a libidinous 14-year old boy* and enthusiastic canine, (“You, again! Wow! In that shirt? OMG. Pant pant. Awesome!”) is better than flowers, jewelry, or whatever else the media suggests women want.


In early Sept, I clip all tomato flowers and about 1/3 of the leaves, to encourage energy into the fruits that already exist.

But really, I want to talk about tomatoes. Because when I see my two garden beds of tomatoes, I see precisely two things: salsa and roasted tomato sauce. Even when the tomatoes are bitty upstarts innocently stretching their tender green limbs in the March greenhouse, I’m thinking only of their September future. I guess there’s the purpose-driven life, there’s your one wild and precious life, and then there’s me and my tomatoes, living the, er, pre-programmed life.



So, I was pleasantly, happily surprised when I broke out of my hierarchical tomato hoarding box to make stuffed tomatoes for our friend Sharon, who threw me for a loop, dinner-wise, being a vegetarian. And I realize this isn’t exactly the beacon of flexibility, not exactly the wildest thing you could do on a Friday night, but it felt like the smallest inroad into well-trod rigidity. Plus, they were crazy delicious.

*with the romantic finesse of a 43-yr old.


Stuffed, baked tomatoes


8 med sized tomatoes

1 cup finely chopped chard (or kale, spinach)

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup minced onion

1-2 cloves garlic

handful chopped fresh basil (or dill, cilantro, chives)

1-2 TBSP coconut oil

1 tsp salt


Slice tomatoes in half. Scoop out insides carefully, trying not to make holes in the bottom (which I did and really was fine). Reserve tomato insides in a bowl. Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil on low heat for 15 minutes. Add chopped chard and reserved tomato (you will need to mash the fresh, raw tomato. I used a potato masher. A fork would work fine) and cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the chard is thoroughly cooked. Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and fresh basil. Mix. Add to scooped out tomato shells. Bake at 300F for approx 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned on top.

toms5There are three points of attachment of tomato flesh to skin, and it’s very satisfying to sever these bonds.

 The mix, before the cheese is added. If you’re dairy-free, you could stop here, or add some cooked rice or quinoa.
Incredibly cute tomato shells, plus mix ready to fill spaces.
The filling of tomato shells.
toms10Baked. and mouthwatering.
Hoping for out-of-the-box-living for all of us,

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Becky permalink
    September 17, 2015

    looks so good and I am going to try this. if there are some left over – do they freeze well or do you not have that situation? Also, what is chard? Becky – down here in N.C

  2. September 17, 2015

    ha! you described it perfectly. our men are just lovely :)

  3. Natalie permalink
    September 17, 2015

    Oh my god – that “dialog” from Dan slays me. Soooo great! – both that this is true for you guys and your description of it.

  4. Melissa permalink
    September 17, 2015

    Yep, Leeor is the same with me. Which I do love even though I feign exasperation sometimes. Those tomatoes though!!! Thanks for the tip bc we are having cousins for early Shabbat dinner and now I know what to make in addition to chicken Kiev (which is a Friday night special around here). Shana tova to you and your crew! ️Xoxoxo

  5. September 18, 2015

    you and your, uh, how did you put it…”pre-programmed life,” has led you and all of us who follow you into a Rumi-eseque, “wild and precious life,” as well…so…kudos to you and your Precious Clan for mining the rasas from the mundane; NO ONE does it Higher than thou!

    oh, there was a fantastic Bear Being in Brookside this evening, slumbering in an ol’ cottonwood. watched him until he moved via his Ujjayi breath, silhouetted by a waning crescent Grandmother Moon…How Stinkin’ Blessed Are We!??!

    Om Mani Padme Hung…

  6. nan permalink
    September 19, 2015

    Rachel, the way Dan feels about you , is the way I feel about your writing. You are lovely. And thanks for the recipe, I will be making this.

  7. September 22, 2015

    Thanks for the idea. I’ve got a plate of tomatoes to use asap. I did some guacamole, but these stuffed tomatoes look fantastic!!!!!!!!!

  8. September 25, 2015

    I think that is fantastic that you have a marriage where your spouse still thinks you’re the bomb-diggity-bomb. My husband arrived home yesterday after work with his cowboy hat cocked just so and I said “hey handsome” and he grinned and said “oh, hi, you look…nice too.” Hmm, maybe I should wear some more attractive clothes than my garden dirty, home with kids all day ones.

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