Couscous stuffed tomatoes

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This couscous stuffed tomatoes recipe is great because you can combine the stuffing and use many of different ingredients to change the flavours.  They goes great with a salad for a light summer dinner, or you can make a big batch as a side dish for a large crowd. Traditional couscous can be bought in shops, but needs pre-soaking and takes a long time to cook – it’s usually steamed. Quick-cook couscous is more readily available and more convenient, as it just needs rehydrating in boiled or simmering water. Ready-flavoured couscous can be bought in supermarkets, but you’ll usually get a tastier result by adding your own ingredients to flavour plain couscous during cooking.

Ingredients:

12 medium sized “on the vine” tomatoes

1 box of couscous
1 can of garbonzo beans, chopped
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped spinach
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot (or half an onion) chopped
1/4 cup italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Slice a very thing section off the bottom of the washed tomatoes to allow them to stand up without rolling around.  Then slice off the tops and scoop out the insides with a spoon or melon baller.  Spinkle the interior of the tomatoes generously with salt and then place upside down on a paper towel for 30 minutes.  (If you skip this step, all that moisture would combine with the couscous mixture to make for a soggy stuffing).

In the meantime, pour the couscous grains into a large mixing bowl.  Refer to the couscous box to find out the recommended amount of water to use to cook the grains.  Bring that amount of water to a boil and once boiling, pour over the couscous.  Stir together and cover with a lid for 5 minutes so the grains will steam and absorb the hot water.  After 5 minutes, mix the garbonzo beans, pine nuts, basil, spinach, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the couscous.

In a small saute pan, cook the shallots over medium-low heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  As the shallots start to become translucent, add in the garlic and a pinch of salt.  If the pan is dry, add more oil.  After adding the garlic, saute for about 30-60 seconds longer, or until you can start to smell the garlic and it softens.  Add the cooked shallots and garlic into the couscous mixture and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon the mixture into the tomatoes and top with about a teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture.  Place the tomatoes into the baking dish.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the breadcrumb topping.