They look savory from afar but contain a sweet, aromatic mixture within.
Serve on a round plate with a bit of the warm cooking liquid, or with some vanilla ice cream.
- For the filling
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 to 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
- 1 large Asian pear, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
- 7 ounces peeled and cored pineapple, cut into small dice
- 1/4 cup small-diced fennel bulb
- Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
- Finely grated zest of 2 small lemons
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons chopped golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, preferably Sicilian
- 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted almonds
- 2 vanilla beans, split
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- For the tomatoes
- 6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded, with stems reserved for garnish (optional)
For the filling: Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar with a splash of water in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is lightly caramelized, then add the apple, pear, pineapple and fennel. Cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes, then add the orange and lemon zests, ginger, cinnamon, raisins, pistachios, almonds and 1 split vanilla bean, stirring to mix well. Remove from the heat; the fruit and nut mixture should yield about 2 cups.
For the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Carefully cut an even slice off the top of each tomato, creating a cap (to be put back on); set the caps aside. Carefully hollow out the tomatoes and fill loosely with the stuffing, reserving the vanilla bean for garnish); you may have some of the filling left over. Place the caps on top of each tomato and center a stem on top of each one, if desired. Set aside.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium nonstick skillet and cook it for 3 minutes over medium heat, just until it has caramelized. Remove from the heat to add the orange juice and the remaining split vanilla bean, stirring to combine. Place the filled tomatoes in the skillet, transfer to the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, basting the tomatoes several times, until the tomatoes are nicely colored and slightly caramelized on the outside. To serve, place a tomato on each plate and spoon some of the cooking liquid around it. Cut the vanilla beans to use as a garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.
From restaurant chef Dominique Filoni of the Four Seasons in Georgetown.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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