My garden has not completely forsaken me. Even though I’ve all but quit tending it since I started feeling like I was suffering from a nasty, drawn-out flu, I haven’t had the energy to work outside in the heat. The pumpkins withered on the vine, the sunflowers quit their blooming and turned into large, wooden skeletons in the corner of our yard. The onions and garlic dried up, and the larger tomatoes looked sad and forlorn. Not the sun gold cherry tomatoes, however. They exploded off the vine in astounding numbers and flashes of golden jewels peppered the overgrown plants.
I still had blue cheese leftover from our slider potluck and I needed to find a way to use it up before it went bad. I decided the most logical course was to make blue cheese-stuffed cherry tomato appetizers. It might not be the most practical idea, and instead of using it as an appetizer we ate it as a salad. These are easy to make but they require patience to fill the tomatoes. And unless you cook professionally the result will not be the neatest, most attractive tomato you’ve ever seen, but they are so good it is worth it.
The blue cheese is made richer and slightly more mild by the cream cheese, and the basil and chives add herbal notes. But the flavors that really make this work are the creamy piquancy of the blue cheese interacting with the acidic sweetness of the tomatoes. I had to prevent myself from eating them as fast as I could make them, and when a Random Dude who was visiting my house walked by, I forced one on him. His eyes lit up and he declared them “very tasty!” I wouldn’t recommend trying this with beefsteak tomatoes, but the larger the cherry tomato you can find, the better. A sliver of bacon on top of each tomato would be pretty amazing as well.
As frequently happens in my kitchen, I tend to eyeball amounts and ingredients. But for about three dozen cherry tomatoes I used:
- 1 tbs chives – the store was out of chives, so I used scallion greens, but if you can get chives, use them
- 2 tbs blue cheese
- 2 tbs cream cheese
- 5 0r 6 leaves of basil
- a zippy bag and a pair of scissors, or a pastry bag
I had a bit of cheese mixture left over, and I’m glad, because I found several fantastic uses for it that I’ll talk about below.
– Bring the cream cheese and blue cheese to room temperature before you begin.
– Wash and dry your cherry tomatoes and mince the basil and chives as finely as possible.
– Mix the blue cheese and cream cheese together with a fork until they are blended and soft in consistency. Add the basil and chives and thoroughly mix in.
– The easiest way to fill the tomatoes is to pipe them in using a pastry bag or a zippy bag turned into a pastry bag. I use this simple hack to fill my deviled eggs and I know lots of people who use this method for frosting cupcakes. Simply add your mixture into a zippy bag and push it all the way into one corner. Using your scissors, snip off a corner and you have a bag perfect for piping cheese into cherry tomatoes.
– As for the tomatoes themselves, turn them upside down so the sturdy stem side is on the bottom. Take a very sharp paring knife and make a small cut in the bottom of the tomato. It needs to be very small, because the next step is to hold your tomato over your sink or a bowl and to squeeze some of the watery insides out. As you do this your small cut will expand. Don’t worry about getting every little bit out of the tomato. We don’t want to compromise its structural integrity too much.
– Pipe the filling into the tomato and set on a tray. Mine were not the most beautiful stuffed tomatoes out there, but they were delicious, and that trumps looks in my book. Popping your tomatoes in the fridge for a bit will help firm up the cheese and keep the tomatoes together, though I think they taste their best and most intense at room temperature.
As for the leftover cheese mixture, I was sad I didn’t have more. I spread some on some tiny ears of corn I got at the farmer’s market and I was licking my plate. What you basically have on your hands is a cheese spread, so if you added it to a slice of baguette with several slices of tomato you have a fantastic open face or tea sandwich to enjoy. If you happen to have whole wheat crackers on hand you have yet another appetizer option all together. How about on pita bread or chips, or with roasted portobello mushroom caps? I wouldn’t discourage you from piping it directly in your mouth, but if you look in your fridge I’m sure you’ll find several other uses for this as well.