Heirloom tomatoes, marvelously sweet and robust, pair beautifully with earthy, creamy flageolet beans and the bright perfumed notes of fresh thyme. I love to serve stuffed heirloom tomatoes in summertime for a light supper, partnered with a light salad dressed with vinaigrette.
The markets are positively brimming with piles of round, robust heirloom tomatoes. When they're abundant and plentiful, I buy them by the case - dressing some with olive oil and herbs for Tomatoes Provençale, and serving others in salads. I like to stuff heirloom tomatoes with beans, pine nuts, breadcrumbs and fresh thyme.
Flageolet Beans for Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes
A variety of bean popular in France, flageolet beans are small, tender and pale green with a lovely creaminess. Their mild flavor and delicate texture blends beautifully with robust flavors like garlic and herbs, and the way they hold their shape during cooking make them great for seasoning and stuffing into firm, ripe heirloom tomatoes.
Farmers harvest flageolet beans earlier than other beans, before they reach full maturity, which gives them their small size, mild flavor and pale green color.
You can find flageolet beans at many farmers markets and in well-stocked natural food stores. You can also order them online here. If you can't find them, small white beans make a good substitute.
Stuffed Heirloom Tomato Recipe
- Dump the beans into a medium mixing bowl, cover them with hot water, and stir in the baking soda. Allow them to soak at least 8 and up to 18 hours. Drain them, and rinse the beans well.
- Add the beans to a soup pot, drop in the bay leaves, and boil the beans until tender, about 90 minutes. Drain.
- Heat the oven to 375 F.
- Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-heat, and then stir in the garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper. Sauté them together until fragrant, about three minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and bread crumbs, toasting them until colored, about a minute more. Remove the skillet from the heat, and then stir in the beans.
- Core the tomatoes, and then drop about two tablespoons of the seasoned beans into each tomato. Top with parmesan cheese, and bake about 25 minutes. Serve warm.