Plum tomatoes come mostly either from Italy or the USA. When cooked, they have a better taste and texture than the ordinary salad tomato. They can be found in large supermarkets, but if you can’t get them just use the others. This recipe makes an attractive vegetarian main course or a tasty starter.

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Ingredients

  • 6 large plum or salad tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg

For the Stuffing

  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 350 g (12 oz) fresh spinach, stalks removed
  • 500 g (1 lb) Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 g (2 oz) Cheddar or Swiss Gruyère, grated

For the Leek Garnish

  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 2 leeks, cut into very thin 5–7.5 cm (2–3 in) strips
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) Lemon Butter Sauce

Method

Remove the eyes from the tomatoes and split them in half top to bottom. Scoop out and discard the seeds and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a pan and cook the sliced shallots for a few minutes. Add the spinach and cook on a high heat for a further 2–3 minutes until softened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Warm the mashed potatoes and work in the olive oil.

Pre-heat the grill to hot. Place the tomatoes under the hot grill for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Spoon the spinach mixture into the tomatoes and top with the mashed potatoes (the potatoes can be piped in through a piping bag and plain nozzle). Sprinkle them with grated Cheddar or Gruyère and place under the grill until golden brown.

Meanwhile, to prepare the leek garnish, make sure the leek strips are thoroughly dry then deep-fry them in hot oil for about 30 seconds until they have crisped and taken a slight golden colour. Remove from the fat, drain well on kitchen paper and season with salt.

When the tomatoes are ready, divide them between individual bowls or plates and spoon the leeks on top. Sprinkle with a little extra olive oil or serve with the lemon butter sauce.

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