Monday, July 19, 2010

Avocado Pesto Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

I found this recipe in the December 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. My assumption is that the recipe was included in the issue as a holiday appetizer because of it's festive red and green colors. I was instantly intrigued by the recipe, but not for my Christmas party. I tore the page out of the magazine and stashed it in my summer recipes file. Finally summer came, but I hadn't found the perfect occasion to serve this fussy lil' appetizer. Until this Saturday....on Saturday night my husband and I participated in our neighborhood wine walk. Similar in concept to a progressive dinner, we travelled from house to house, spending about 45 minutes at each stop, tasting wine and sampling appetizers. 12 couples participated, however, we only travelled to 5 houses. This meant that we could team up with the hosting houses so that everyone contributed something. My friend Chris was hosting stop #3 and I was happy to co-hostess her stop with another one of our friends, Kelly. We definitely put out the the most food. I volunteered to bring bruschetta (which is turning out to be my signature summer side) and these avocado pesto stuffed cherry tomatoes. Our hostess picked up a Spanish Red Wine (Garancha de Fuego), some delicious boneless wings, an assortment of baked goodies and Kelly provided a spinach dip in addition to a semi-dry white wine with a bit of fizz.(I can't remember what that one was called).

Here's a picture of some of the food...snapped just as we saw the rest of the wine walkers coming down the sidewalk toward stop #3.

If you're a wino wine enthusiast like me, this is a great opportunity to try a variety of wine and see what others enjoy. I think that each house featured 2 types of wine, so 10 varieties in all. And if you're a total pig foodie like me it's a great chance to try some delicious food. I can't name everything that I ate, but some standouts from each house were: Homemade salsa and bread with a hot cheese dip at stop #1, a yummy BLT dip and Greek phyllo pies stuffed with spinach and feta at stop #2, of course, all of the food at stop # 3 was wonderful : ), a gooey brie with butterscotch sauce at stop #4, and chicken shumai at stop #5. I couldn't help but notice that my shorts were awfully snug the next day. As next month will mark our two year anniversary in this house...we are still relatively new to our established neighborhood. This was a great way to meet and get better acquainted with some of our neighbors. I'd definitely recommend organizing one of these events in your neighborhood. If you're not a wine drinker, no problem! Some of the participants just carried along their beverage of choice, passing on the wine and enjoying the food and company.

The stuffed cherry tomatoes proved an excellent addition to our stop # 3 snack table. They do require a bit of time and effort, but in my opinion, they were SO worth it! Some of my neighbors thought the same, because I received quite a few compliments on my contribution to the wine walk.

This recipe starts out simple enough. Wash some cherry tomatoes. The recipe calls for 30, but I used 40 and doubled the filling recipe.

Next, cut a thin slice from the top of each tomato. I'd also recommend cutting a very thin slice from the bottom too, so that they don't roll around when you try to plate them. I tried to skip that step at first, but when my tomatoes began rolling around after I filled them, I had to go back and level each and every bottom.

With a sharp paring knife, I cut down into each tomato a bit to "core" it.

It looked like this when I finished the step. Now I only needed to scrape the inside to remove the seeds.

After testing a couple of other options, I settled on a rickety, old school, vegetable peeler as the perfect tool for the job. Gently, scrape out the seeds. I stress gently, because I ruined the first couple of tomatoes in my attempt to cut and seed them. Once seeded, turn them upside down on a plate lined with paper towel and let them drain for 30 minutes.

This whole process takes quite a bit of time, so you might want to pull up a chair and sit while you execute this step. I kept a little bowl for the "lids and guts" next to me.

While the tomatoes drained, I set about making my pesto. You can do this in the mixer, food processor, or blender. I used my Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome I combined the ingredients: cream cheese, avocado, prepared pesto, and lemon juice in the provided blender container.

Seconds later, the filling was ready!

Here are my hollowed and drained tomatoes, ready for filling.

I didn't get a shot of the filling step, but I filled one of my cake decorating bags with the filling and piped it into each cherry. A plastic baggie with the corner cut off would work just fine here too. After I filled them, I sprinkled fresh, chopped basil over the plate.

These really do make for a lovely presentation...and they're tasty too! I must've popped about half a dozen into my mouth while I was making them.

If you're not serving these at your home, I recommend tranporting them (tightly packed) in a covered container and then plating and garnishing with the basil when you reach your destination. This will save you the stress of watching these lil' beauties slide around on the plate as you make your way to the party. If they topple into one another, they get the messy pesto filling all over the place! I'm just sayin'...

Avocado Pesto-Stuffed Tomatoes recipe from Better Homes and Gardens original recipe found HERE

Prep: 40 minutes (I bet to differ)
Stand: 30 minutes

30 cherry tomatoes (about 1-1/4 pints)
1/2 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut up
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. homemade or purchased basil pesto
1 tsp. lemon juice
Snipped fresh basil (optional)
1. Cut a thin slice from the top of each tomato. (If desired, cut a thin slice from bottoms of tomatoes so they stand upright.) With a small spoon or small lemon baller carefully hollow out the tomatoes. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Invert tomatoes on the towels. Let stand 30 minutes to drain.

2. Meanwhile, for filling, in a food processor bowl combine avocado, cream cheese, pesto, and lemon juice. Cover; process until smooth. Spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or open star tip.

3. Place tomatoes, open sides up, on a serving platter. Pipe filling into the tomato cups. Serve immediately or cover loosely and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving. Sprinkle with snipped basil before serving. Makes 30 appetizers.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 18, Total Fat (g) 1, Saturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 2, Sodium (mg) 16, Carbohydrate (g) 1, Total Sugar (g) 1, Vitamin C (DV%) 4, Calcium (DV%) 1, Iron (DV%) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Notes: I found that a vegetable peeler, like the one pictured in this post was ideal for scraping out the seeds. A small spoon or melon baller would have proved to large to stick into the top of the tomato, thus mutilating the edible, pretty red bowl. Also, I'd recommend making 1 1/2-2 X more filling so that you have plenty to top off the tomatoes and room for mistakes. Finally, I don't recommend making these a day ahead or the morning before your event. Even with the lemon juice in the filling, the filling was un-appetizingly browned on the few that I had leftover the next day. Edible, but not as pretty.


Donna-FFW said...

I love the fact that you have seasonal recipe files!! So ultra organized.

And they look great!

Ty'sMommy said...

Oh YUM!!! I admit I have seen these kinds of appys before, but I have never been tempted to make them until now. They look super! I was drooling through the whole post. I wish I had a real neighborhood to organize a wine walk for. :) My closest neighbor is a half mile away...might turn into a long night....

Kim said...

Oh yummy - cream cheese, avocado and pesto...delicious and a perfect appetizer for your wine walk! It's so nice that you have wonderful and fun neighbors.

Anonymous said...


Mary | Deep South Dish said...

That was some good looking food y'all had and what a neat idea. Since Katrina my neighborhood has turned into a "houses for sale" and a rental neighborhood, which makes things pretty transient. I miss the old neighborhood like where I grew up - everybody knew (and cared about) each other. Doesn't happen much these days. Pretty cool that y'all do that!

Heather S-G said...

Oh yes, I'm a wine enthusiast (wino) AND foodie (total pig),as well, so... YUM!! I love the thought of avocado pesto...looks creamy and delish! ;)

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a beautiful appetizer. The colors are just magnificent. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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