Tag Archives: breadcrumbs

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Brown Rice Pasta

8 Oct

This is one of my favorite recipes nowadays… I can safely say this is what I am cooking to impress new boyfriends (yes, there is more than one…) these days. Boyfriends and girlfriends too… OK, friends overall!!!

The first time I made this recipe, or idea/concept really, was at my friend’s Melissa. I was bored, wanted to cook but not just for me, posted on FaceBook and Melissa offered her kitchen for me to cook away. FaceBook is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It connects you with friends online and offline too…

I say this is a concept or idea more than a recipe because I have done this about 5-6 times already and every time I make it differently. And every time the end result is still delicious… I am sharing with you the BEST combination of them all.  But you can certainly mix and match, omit or add any ingredient you deem appropriate.












4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, preferably organic and washed well with a vegetable cleanser
3 button mushrooms, chopped
¼ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
¼ cup goat cheese or goat cheese crumbles
2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
A few sprinklings of Italian Seasonings
Salt and Freshly Cracked Ground Pepper to taste
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs water or vegetable broth
Brown Rice pasta – fettuccini or penne… your choice
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut the top off the tomatoes and carefully scoop out most of the inner flesh and seeds. Sometimes, I also cut a very small slit underneath the tomato to help is stay upright.
  3. Collect the innards of the tomatoes in a bowl were we will mix with the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Place the hollowed tomatoes in a greased baking dish. Season them with a very light sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
  4. Chop the tomato insides in a small dice. Chop the tomato tops also. No need to waste those. Add the mushrooms, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, parmesan, goat cheese and parsley. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and a small drizzle of olive oil. Mix well to combine.
  5. Stuff the tomatoes generously. Try not to burst them open, but create a mound of stuffing on top. Garnish with a little more grated or shredded parmesan cheese on top of each tomato. Season again the whole dish with some salt, pepper and a last drizzle of olive oil. Add the vinegar and broth to the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Place in oven and roast for about 30 -45 minutes.
  7. When the tomatoes just have about 10 minutes left, cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in.
  8. Remove the tomatoes onto a holding dish. Transfer the juice/broth in the bottom of the baking dish onto the pasta pot with the drained pasta. Mix well to combine… add a bit of pasta water if you like. Add a sprinkle of additional parmesan if you’d like.
  9. Serve pasta in plates… add one tomato per person on top of the pasta.


The way to go about this is that the stuffed tomato becomes, when you cut it while eating, the tomato sauce you eat the pasta with. The cheeses and mushrooms and breadcrumbs in the stuffing create this savory mixture with the tomatoes that is just spectacular.

Melissa has already requested I make this in her home again for company… Walter and David were positively impressed when they tasted it. My mom also… I am telling you, this recipe is a true hit. And a tad bit more figure-friendly than my usual impress-new boyfriend-recipe Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses.

I have made this recipe with Roma tomatoes, large tomatoes and even those small vine-ripened tomatoes you find at Costco.  I just use 3 tomatoes per person when using either Roma or the smaller ones. 

Hope you like it too… How would you make this recipe your own???

Spinach Croquetas

8 Jul

I love croquetas… when I was little, my dad used to take us to La España to eat ham croquetas.  It was the treat while we were waiting for our Media Noches or Sandwiches Cubanos.  And the croquetas needed to be eaten with a squirt of lemon to taste in their prime.

But now that I am vegetarian, I miss eating croquetas.  So, in good vegetarian fashion, we need to start making them ourselves.

We got together in my friend Angie’s house to enjoy a whole Spanish feast to celebrate the start of San Fermín – among all the dishes we made, we made these croquetas.  Not to worry… you’ll be seeing the rest of the dishes we had in the next few days. 

We even got out our Spanish aprons for the ocassion…

We mixed a few techniques…  what my aunts in Miami have told me, a few recipes I had found on the internet, the fork-frying technique from Angie’s Cuban mother-in-law Graciela and our daringness to not give up on the first try if things did not turn our exactly as planned.  The results were delicious…


1 cup of frozen spinach, measured frozen, thawed and squeezed dry
½ yellow onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, smashed
1tbs olive oil
1 small pat of butter
2 tbs spelt flour
About ¾ to 1 cup of milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
About 1 cup of whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Canola Oil for frying


We will be basically making a thick béchamel that we will mix with the spinach, breading and then frying.

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, butter, onions and garlic.  Sautee them until they become softened.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Remove the pieces of garlic and add the spelt flour and stir all together to form a paste.  Move around the saucepan a bit to cook the paste as much as you can to avoid having a raw flour taste afterwards. 
  3. After about 1-2 minutes of cooking the onion/flour paste, slowly add the milk while whisking.  Whisking will prevent lumps from forming.  Continue whisking once in a while until the mixture starts to bubble.  It’ll need to bubble to know how thick the sauce will really be.  Add more milk if you believe the sauce is too thick, but it needs to be on the thick side to withstand the frying later.
  4. Take off the heat and add the dry spinach.  Season with salt and pepper again.  Mix together well to avoid having big lumps of spinach.
  5. Take the mixture off the sauce pan to help it cool off.  You can place in the refrigerator, if you’d like.
  6. After the spinach béchamel has cooled, we can start making the croquetas…
  7. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow container.  Set aside.
  8. In a large skillet, pour about ½ inch of canola oil and allow it to become hot enough for frying.  We always check using a wooden spoon.
  9. While the oil heats up, we take about 1 tsp of spinach mixture and roll it in our hands to make a ball. 
  10. Drop it on the breadcrumbs and roll around to coat it well on all sides.
  11. Place breaded balls in the hot oil to fry.   It’ll take about 5 minutes to cook on all sides until they’re golden brown. 
  12. The croquetas are delicate so the best way to handle them while frying them is using 2 forks.  Use the forks to roll them from one side to another to ensure they cook well on all sides and to take them out of the oil.
  13. Make sure the first side has cooked enough and is crispy to withstand being moved.  If you move them too soon, they will just break and form a sloppy mess on the frying pan.
  14. Take them off the frying oil and drain them on some paper towels while they cool off a bit.


The croquetas were a real success – we ate them all up before the husbands ever arrived.  We had such a great time frying and eating as they came out of the skillet.

Natalia and Mariana tried the croquetas for the first time and I think they were a hit – more with Natalia than with Mariana, but I feel confident I can make these again at home and they will both eat them all up.


These Spinach Croquetas may not be the ones I originally learned how to eat in La España.  But, with a little rearranging of the letters, these are also as Spanish as they can be.  And a squirt of lemon will not hurt these either…

Stuffed Mushrooms

21 Jan

I realized last night, I made this recipe a few months ago and forgot to post it…

I love mushrooms.  I salivate when I travel to visit my sister in Indiana or to New York and go to any regular supermarket and see the wide variety of fresh mushrooms available.  Here we get mostly white button mushrooms and with luck, sometimes we can find portobellos, creminis or oysters… but they’re usually old soggy-looking, so I never buy them like that.

I learned this recipe from my other good friend, Giada De Laurentiis.    And until now, I haven’t realized my photo resembled so much the photo in the Food Network website.  I usually make this by “eye-balling” the proportion of the ingredients… so we’ll just use Giada’s proportions as a guide this time.



1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs – I grind ww breadsticks or leftover bread in the food processor 
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Garlic & Herb Seasoning or Italian Seasonings
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large white or cremini mushrooms, stemmed
Save about 1/2 the mushroom stems
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the stuffing by mixing in a bowl the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, seasonings, salt and pepper.  Add olive oil until the mixture is damp and holds somewhat together when you press it between your fingers.
  3. Take about 1/2 the mushrooms stems you took off and chop them very finely.  Add them to the breadcrumb mix and combine.
  4. Fill each mushroom cap – not too tightly because they might break.
  5. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet, place mushroom caps on sheet and drizzle additional olive oil on top of the mushrooms.


6.  Bake for about 30 minutes until mushrooms are soft and the top of the filling is golden brown.

7.  Serve warm.

These are great as an appetizer or as a side dish.  I once made a “stuffed night” and served these mushrooms with my Stuffed Peppers and worked great.

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