Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

Filled with a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, chopped tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, these stuffed tomatoes are absolutely delicious and fill the kitchen with an inviting aroma. It doesn't take much to prepare the tomatoes, and they cook quickly in the oven. You can also pop them on the grill!

Stuffed tomatoes are a fantastic vegetarian side dish or appetizer, or even a light main course. While they’re ideal for summer meals because that’s the peak of tomato season, they’re a versatile and easy addition to the dinner table any day of the year.

The Best Tomato Varieties for Making Stuffed Tomatoes

Any firm tomato that you would slice for sandwiches is a good choice for this recipe. Classic medium or large red tomatoes like beefsteaks or tomatoes on the vine are perfect. Some meatier heirloom varieties can work well too. Be sure to choose tomatoes that are large enough to hollow out and stuff.

Petite plum and cherry tomatoes are generally too small to stuff and the softer flesh doesn't make the best bowl.

How to Hollow out Tomatoes for Stuffing

To hollow out tomatoes for stuffing, start by cutting the top off of each tomato slightly below the stem. Then carefully use a small spoon to scoop out the insides (transfer the insides to a colander to drain). You may find that the bottom needs a little prying. If needed, use a paring knife to cut any stubborn pieces. Try to avoid piercing the outer flesh and skin as you work; the filling will seal any small holes, but you want a nice, strong bowl.

Once you have hollowed each tomato, sprinkle it with salt and place it upside down on a plate or a wire rack set over a sheet pan to drain while you prepare the filling.

Tips for the Very Best Stuffed Tomatoes

  • Drain the pulp: Don't worry about removing every single seed, but do drain the tomato pulp well so the filling isn't too liquidy. You can also discard any tougher white pieces of the core if you like.
  • Make cleanup a cinch: To make clean-up easier, line the baking dish or baking sheet with foil.
  • Use a broiler safe dish: For an extra-crispy topping, briefly broil the tomatoes just before serving. Just be sure to use a broiler safe dish or sheet pan to cook them if you are planning on broiling them.
  • Get a jump on prep: If you'd like, you can stuff the tomatoes up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate, then bake right before serving.

What to Serve with Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes

Serve the stuffed tomatoes as an appetizer, side, or light main course. They’re a hearty complement to steak and pork, as well as vegetarian kebabs. Or for a lighter meal, just add a fresh salad. You can also serve them for brunch alongside a frittata.

“I served these tasty stuffed tomatoes with a cheese soufflé for a dinner party and they were a hit. With a simple salad, they’d make a great vegetarian main course, especially during the summer when tomatoes are at their peak.” – Megan O. Steintrager

Vegetarian Stuffed Tomatoes Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large tomatoes

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (use a vegetarian variety, if needed)

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 F, placing the rack in the center.

    Ingredients to make vegetarian stuffed tomatoes

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Slightly below the stem, cut the top off each tomato and use a spoon to carefully scoop out the inside, transferring the pulp to a colander set over the sink or a plate to catch the juices. Drain out all of the liquid and discard as many seeds as possible.

    Three tomatoes on a cutting board, hollowed out, with a strainer of tomato seeds

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Sprinkle the inside of the hollowed out tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and set them upside down on a plate or a wire rack set over a sheet pan to continue draining as you prepare the filling.

    Four tomatoes, cut-side down on a baking rack over a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Chop the tomato that you scooped out and add it to a medium mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix well to combine.

    A large bowl with tomato scraps, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Set the hollow tomatoes upright in a baking dish or on a sheet pan and fill each with equal amounts of the stuffing, mounding the stuffing up if necessary.

    A baking sheet with four tomatoes filled with the breadcrumb-cheese filling

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Bake the tomatoes until the skin just begins to crack, the filling is bubbly, and the cheese is melted, about 15 to 25 minutes. If you like (and used a broiler-safe dish), finish them under the broiler for about 2 minutes.

    A baking sheet with cooked, vegetarian stuffed tomatoes

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.

    A tray of four stuffed tomatoes topped with chopped parsley

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

How to Store

The stuffed tomatoes are best when freshly baked but will keep well for a day or two when refrigerated in an air-tight container. Reheat them in the oven at 400 F for about 15 minutes; a little extra cheese on top freshens them up.

While not ideal because they will be softer, you can freeze the tomatoes before or after stuffing; let them thaw in the refrigerator before baking as usual.

Recipe Variations

  • Grill the stuffed tomatoes: Grill the stuffed tomatoes in a cast iron pan set over a grill heated to about 400 F for a wonderful smoky flavor.
  • Mix up the seasoning: Swap out the dried herbs in the recipe for 1 1/2 teaspoons of a store-bought or homemade Italian seasoning or your favorite spice blend.
  • Go with fresh herbs: If you have an herb garden, you can swap the dried herbs for 1/2 tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh herbs.
  • Switch to your favorite style of breadcrumbs. Panko, gluten-free, and seasoned breadcrumbs are great options. Make sure fresh breadcrumbs are very fine.
  • Go for grains: Instead of breadcrumbs, add 1/3 cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or another grain.
  • Add some meat: Cooked ground Italian sausage, cooked ground beef, or chopped pepperoni—split evenly with breadcrumbs or a grain—are tasty and transform the tomatoes into a light one-dish meal.
  • Play with the cheese: Have fun with different styles of cheese, and pair them with various herbs. For instance, go with a Caprese-style tomato and use basil alone with fresh mozzarella, or pair gruyere with thyme, or feta and oregano.
  • Make it vegan: For vegan stuffed tomatoes, use your favorite dairy-free cheese.

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