This was the appetizer for my Saturday Dinner Party
After a brief tour of the house, our guests gathered in the dining room where white wine was chilling and the red was breathing in an elegantly shaped decanter. The aroma of lemon and rosemary danced above me as I emerged from the kitchen with a glass block in hand. The visual of the single-file line of bold red tomatoes reminded me of school children gathering for recess on a chilly afternoon.
I’m a firm believer in serving an appetizer for any dinner gathering, no matter how casual the meal. The purpose is almost always to provide me with a cushion of extra cooking time for the unexpected. Forget spending tedious hours making multiple items. Just choose a simple recipe that compliments your beverage of choice and makes a flavorful first impression. Since a bold cheese and fresh tomatoes are a great combination with wines, I thought the stuffed tomatoes would the perfect option.
Pesto Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
20 – 25 fresh cherry tomatoes (not grape tomatoes)
4 oz. plain goat cheese, room temperature
3 tsp. prepared pesto
2 tsp. half-and-half
Cream the goat cheese, pesto and half-and-half until well combined. Spoon the mixture into a zip lock bag. I found a freezer bag works best. The seams of a sandwich bag tend to tear from the pressure. Set aside.
To prepare the tomatoes to be filled, snip the bottom of each tomato with a sharp kitchen knife. You want to trim just enough to create a flat spot for the tomatoes to stand properly. Next, slice the top of each tomato to expose the insides. Using a knife with a sharp point, carefully cut out the center core. I have found a steak knife works best. Also, be careful not to break through the bottom of the tomato. You want to create a cup for the filling. Rinse out the seeds under cold water. Drain the tomatoes cup side down on paper towel.
Snip a corner of the zip lock bag and squeeze the cheese filling into each tomato. This can be served at room temperature.
Authors Note: This is an appetizer that can easily be prepared in advance. Just mix the filling, place in the zip lock bag and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Scoop the tomatoes and keep cut side down also until ready serve. Bring the cheese back to room temperature (about 10 minutes), and fill just before your guests arrive.
Photo Note: The one thing I would do differently with the presentation is to mince some fresh basil as sprinkle all around the edge. It gives an added punch of color and creates an amazing aroma around the platter.