Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Before cooking, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Quinoa kernels are coated with saponins, naturally occurring compounds that protect the plant against insects. A quick rinse removes this bitter tasting layer. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. Depending on the size of the tomatoes, this will serve between 4-6 people.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water. You can also use chicken or vegetable stock; it provides a great flavor boost.
1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
¾ cup red pepper, chopped
¾ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese
⅓ cup scallions, thinly sliced
4 tomatoes
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Dressing

6  tablespoons olive oil
3  tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 glove garlic, minced
⅓ cup cilantro, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Cut off the top ¼ to ½ inch of the tomato. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds, jelly and flesh from the inside of the tomatoes. If necessary, slice a thin segment from the bottom of the tomato so that it sits upright in the dish. Sprinkle about ¼ teaspoon salt on the inside of the tomato shells, invert them on a paper-towel lined plate and leave them to drain for 30 minutes. This step will help them stand up to the oven’s heat.

3. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and cook according to package directions.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

5. Combine the cooked quinoa, corn, black beans, peppers, cheese and scallions.

6. Toss with dressing. (I usually do not use all of the dressing but save it to use in another salad)

7. Stuff the tomatoes with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375°. Turn the oven to broil and place under the broiler for about a minute. Watch closely! If you turn away, even for a second, it can burn.

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