Oven Roasted Tomatoes with a Goat Cheese Filling

The Friday before Matt left for Germany in July he told me to get dressed in something nice – heels included – because he was taking me out to a fancy dinner. Oo la la. As we were walking toward the Embarcadero I happened to notice a girl with bright red lipstick, straight across bangs and a tye dye shirt walking in the opposite direction. I did a double take and realized it was none other than my friend, Dolly. She and I met a couple years ago and became seriously inseparable, over the past year though we have drifted apart due to moves to the East Bay, far away jobs and hectic schedules. We hung out a few months ago at her new place and had a blast, promising to do it again soon.

Then finals happened. Then then I moved and my second job started. Needless to say, my social life took a few punches.

As soon as I realized it was Dolly walking in my direction I screamed her name and ran over to her. A little awkwardly I might add since I was wearing 5 inch heels and the sidewalk was all brick. Her first words to me were something like “I’m pretty sure finals are over biy-atch. Why haven’t we hung out yet?!” Apologizing profusely, I told her that after Tuesday I would be available since the next few days I would be helping Matt get ready to leave for his month or so long trip to Germany.

We hugged and promised to text.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning. I log into Facebook at 9am and have a comment from Dolly. “It’s after Tuesday. WHERE IS MY KRISTINA RINA TIME?! ♥ Hehe.”

This girl doesn’t mess around. So I text her right then and there asking what she was doing that night. Literally 30 seconds later she text back,  “hanging with choo.”

It was on. We made plans for her to come over after she got off work and I set to thinking of a dinner menu. Dolly is vegetarian and allergic to bananas which is a total bummer cause I have really been wanted to make a banana encrusted pork shoulder. Just kidding.

Last time I was at Dolly’s house she introduced me to the creamy glorious wonder that is goat cheese. Halfway into our log of it, her roommate’s girlfriend explained to me how she used to have a real problem with it. She would go through about a log a night. No joke – for the next 4 days I ate a log a day, going to far as to have my friend who works at the market up the street from my job straight up deliver me some on his lunch break.

Yea, it got real. Fast.

Goat cheese and I had to call it quits, but as old lovers often do, we got back together a few months ago. Things are going well so far, we are just taking it slow and in moderation. But when we first rekindled the flame, Matt was gone, and I’d been feeling a little lonely. So I went and bought 2 large logs of the good stuff and intended to use them both for my dinner with Dolly.

I didn’t want to just make some simple vegetarian dish like pasta, so I did a little searching online and got the idea to mix the goat cheese with garlic and basil and stuff it inside a tomato and then bake it.

I got my oven heating to 425 and put the log of goat cheese in between the burners on the stove (none of the burners were lit) to let it soften a little from the warming oven.

I started with 4 tomatoes still on the vine. I cut the very tops off and used a knife and a spoon to cut and scoop their insides out then I cut off the very bottoms of the tomatoes to make sure that they sat straight.

For the filling I took my cheese off the stove, unwrapped it and put it in a bowl. I then minced 5 cloves of garlic and added that to the cheese. Now the original recipe I saw for this only called for 2 cloves for a lot more cheese but:

1. I love garlic

2. I wasn’t gonna be making out with anyone so I really didn’t care if my breath wasn’t smellin’ like a rose.

I then added a moderate amount of dried basil. I would have preferred to use fresh but when I was at the market they were out of regular and were selling what looked to be 3 leaves of organic basil for 2.49…my dried stuff was just fine.

I mixed this all together and then added 1 egg and beat everything together until it was oh, so smooth.

I then loaded up those beautiful red tomato shells to the brim with the cheese. Actually I filled them up a little more, like half an inch over the top. For good measure. And because I had extra cheese mixture.

Then I took the tops of the tomatoes and put them back on. Like a hat.

I staggered the tomatoes in an oven safe dish like this

I put them in the oven for 35 minutes and until the skin looked a little wrinkled and the cheese was smelling wonderful.

Once on the plate, we barely even needed a fork, let alone a knife, to cut through the tender skin and melted cheese. It took a ton of self control to not just slice the tomato into 4 pieces and pop them into my mouth at the speed of light. But I refrained. I took small, ladylike bites and savored the light, yet bold flavor. All the while sitting on the floor of my kitchen with Dolly and a bottle of wine.

God, I love goat cheese.

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