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Hi! I’m Melissa

When I was young I had wings, but they were taken from me. When I turned 50, I took them back. I’m now a Chef, Photographer, Entrepreneur, and an Artist. This is my diary about mastering midlife & encouraging women to live a fulfilling life at any age. Click here for my About Page.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

I’m a sucker for stuffed food so when I came across a stuffed tomato dish at an upscale steakhouse in Fort Worth, I wanted to try to re-create it at home.

But I failed. Miserably.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes, the most exotic stuffed tomatoes you'll ever eat! From the food and lifestyle blog,

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I stuffed the tomatoes with a rice and Italian sausage mixture which started out fine, but they turned to mush in the oven and were swimming in a greasy pool of orange grease. Because I didn’t pre-cook the Italian sausage, did you already figure that one out?

I discovered this stuffed tomato recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Levant, which has gorgeous recipes from the Middle East made modern. I altered the recipe substantially because I don’t have access to some of the cheeses, but it came out exquisitely, nonetheless. I’ve listed the required ingredients next to what I used to create the photo. Alter as you need to.


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This is the only casserole dish I own. I love the size (9x13), the shape and the sturdy but elegant handles and it comes in 3 colors and 3 shapes. It’s the perfect size for cooking the 8 tomatoes in this recipe. You’ll also need a melon baller to hollow out the tomatoes for stuffing and a slotted spoon to get the tomatoes easily plated without damaging them.


Serves 4-8

8 large round tomatoes, preferably on the vine

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

3 cloves garlic, chopped

salt and pepper

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh basil (I used 1/3 cup store-bought pesto for these 2)
1 Tbsp store-bought pesto

1 Tbsp za’atar (McCormick makes za’atar but it’s not true to flavor - use it if you need to)

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup shredded Kaskaval cheese (I used Mozzarella to replace all 3 cheeses )
1/2 cup finely chopped halloumi cheese
1 cup finely chopped Syrian String Cheese

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Chopped almonds for serving (optional)

  • Preheat over to 400°F

  • Slice 1/2 inch from the tops of the tomatoes, keeping the vines attached, if you like. Using a melon baller or a small spoon, gently scoop out the seeds and adjoining membrane and set aside in a small bowl (you will reuse them later!).

  • In a medium bowl, combine cooked quinoa with the garlic and season with salt and pepper to-taste. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pesto, za’atar, oil, lemon juice and cheese(es) and stir to combine. Stuff the mixture into the tomatoes and place the tops back on (you might have stuffing left over, depending on the size of your tomatoes. It can be eaten alone as a side for another dish.)

  • In the casserole dish, combine the reserved tomato seeds with the broth, season lightly with salt and stir to combine. Add the stuffed tomatoes in a single layer and cover with foil. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325°F and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and bubbling.

  • Serve with the pan sauce for drizzling and chopped nuts, if using.

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Reasons I Love Being in My 50's

Reasons I Love Being in My 50's