Central Stuffed Tomatoes 4.000

Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Aug 18, 2015

This fancy treatment does a middling-quality tomato one better, using it as a vessel for baking savory little meatloaves, then placing it atop tender, tomato-infused pearled couscous.

We’ve changed the recipe slightly from the original, which was the fifth course on Central Michel Richard’s recent tomato-tasting menu, paired with a Nicolas Chemarin Régnié La Haute Ronzie Beaujolais 2012.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • For the tomatoes
  • 4 medium tomatoes, preferably of equal size and shape, with stems (1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef (may substitute ground lamb or ground dark-meat turkey)
  • Kosher salt
  • For the couscous
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dried Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato juice, plus more as needed
  • 3/4 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon


For the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Cut off and reserve the tops of the tomatoes; scoop out most of their insides (reserve for another use, if desired). Arrange them on the baking sheet.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Meanwhile, cut out and discard the fennel core, then cut the remaining fennel into small dice. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the fennel; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut the onion into small dice; reserve 1/3 of it for the couscous. Mince the garlic; stir it and the onion into the skillet; cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Place the panko, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, honey, Sriracha and ground beef in a mixing bowl; use your clean hands to gently combine. Season lightly with salt.

Add the vegetables from the skillet; use a fork to blend them into the meat. Divide the mixture among the tomatoes, packing it so it rises a bit above the tomatoes’ cut edges. Position the reserved tomato tops on top. Drizzle the reconstructed tomatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the tomatoes have deflated a bit.

While the tomatoes are in the oven, make the couscous: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the reserved diced onion and the couscous; cook for 3 minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high.

Add the white wine; cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato juice and chicken broth. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Not all of the liquid should be absorbed; if it is, add just enough tomato juice to keep things soupy.

Divide the couscous and its tomato-y broth among individual wide, shallow bowls. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice into each portion. Place a stuffed tomato at the center of each portion. Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from David Deshaies, executive chef at Central Michel Richard in the District.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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