Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

You know you’ve really worked through a recipe when your brother exclaims “not again” at the sight of another bag of fresh tomatoes. These warm oven baked tomatoes filled with melty mozzarella and fresh chopped basil were worth every test batch.

I told my brother he didn’t have to try anymore but he said “they’re good though”… so it’s been tomatoes for all in my house this week, luckily for me they just happened to be on sale!

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

This dish was inspired by my Mom and her love for fresh oven broiled tomatoes, whether on their own with simple seasoning or smothered in mozzarella. Growing up I could never grasp why she loved them so much but now I’m starting to understand. Fresh tomato on it’s own is kind of on a take it or leave it level for me, I don’t mind it chopped up for in a salad or sliced for a burger but it’s not something I need.

Yet there is something about cooking the tomato that transforms this little red “fruit” into a satisfying little morsel of Italian flavor.

TomIngredients

The basic ingredients for this recipe are simple:

  • At least 4 medium tomatoes.
  • 4+ oz of shredded mozzarella.
  • Chopped basil, fresh is recommended.
  • Italian seasoning, to taste.
  • Oil to grease your baking dish.
  • Salt & Pepper, if desired.

From there you can get creative adding in different sauces or proteins, some successful trials included:

  • Pesto
  • Marinara
  • Italian Sausage
  • Italian Sausage + Marinara
  • Chicken
  • Chicken + Pesto

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

Now there is one place I draw the line when it comes to tomatoes, the seeds have got to go! It’s just one of those weird food quirks people have I guess, I even clean out most of my sliced tomato. That’s one of the reason cherry tomatoes are just not my thing, the thought of them bursting in my mouth gives me the shivers.

In my experience the best tools to get the job done are a cutting mat, trash bowl for the insides you clean out, a serrated knife to tomato cutting a snap, and a metal spoon to scoop out excess seeds and tomato meat.

Don’t underestimate the need for a trash bowl here, there’s a lot of juice and “guts” hiding in that little red package, by putting into a bowl it prevents the liquid from running off of your cutting surface. Ask me how I found the need for this little tip, it was a mess as the unnoticed river of tomato juice started to flow towards my kitchen floor – and I was out of paper towels!

I’ve also found one the best tools for cleaning tomatoes or jalapenos happens to be a simple metal measuring spoon. I just looked for a very inexpensive set with thin edges and it gets the job done like a champ! Much more efficient that a regular dull spoon.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

There are three different ways you can cut the tomatoes for this dish: whole, halved, or quartered. Which one you go with depends on what type of end results your looking for and what type of tomato you decide to use.

I’ve found for the thicker vine ripe tomatoes that they work best whole or quartered. If you’re wanting to do a simple cooked down cheesy baked tomato I recommend the quarters, it allows the tomato to cook faster and it’s easier to serve as a side. If you’re wanting to add a protein then I recommend going for the whole tomato, it gives you room to add your filling while remaining a little sturdier through the cooking process.

If you go with a roma tomato I suggest going with halves, these tend to cook softer than the vine ripe and they come in a egg shape that’s harder to keep upright. From the ones I’ve tried they seem to split easier when overcooked so it makes the whole tomatoes harder to attempt with filling.

If you want to see how I cleaned and cut my tomatoes just take a look at the YouTube recipe tutorial I made for this one, I’ll also add the video to the bottom of this page.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

I baked mine in an oven safe glass dish that was greased with a bit of avocado oil. The type of oil you used doesn’t really matter, something like olive oil would work fine as well. This helps the bottom of the tomato cook a little more and keeps everything from sticking to the dish when trying to remove the cooked tomatoes to serve.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

Once your dish is oiled go ahead and lay your cut and cleaned tomatoes out in preparation to fill. This batch is a little bit of everything so I can show you how each type of tomato will cook down.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

From the many test batches I attempted the most successful method to adding filling is in a few layers. I lay down a thin base of shredded mozzarella, then whatever sauce I want, the fresh chopped basil follows, and then I cap it all off with more mozzarella.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

Sandwiching the filling into the middle of all that mozzarella seems to let the flavor of whatever you add permeate the whole baked tomato. Once you have the mozzarella on top go ahead and add your seasoning, I went simple with a bit of Italian seasoning but salt & pepper would also be good here.

When adding the pesto or basil on top the taste never seemed to incorporate as well and it made it harder for the cheese to melt properly. If you do decide to add something like pesto or marinara just remember that a little bit goes a long way, I only use about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of each!

Your going to want your oven preheated to 400 degrees while your prepping your tomatoes. Cook time will vary depending on oven and desired softness of tomatoes.

For mine I find 20 minutes to be the sweet spot in my oven. If you want a firmer tomato you can go as low as 10 minutes and if you want a really soft tomato let it cook up to 30 minutes.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

This batch was meant to be a side to my main meal so I went simple with cheese, basil, and sauce. It pairs really well with any main dish, here I served it with fresh zoodles and chicken!

Whether you make them your main dish or just a side these oven baked tomatoes will be worth it. There’s something about melty mozzarella that makes everything better and the combination of tomato, basil, and Italian seasoning just works.

The days of me turning my nose up at cooked tomato are over, I just had to find a way of preparing them that worked for me! I hope that someone else enjoys these as much as I do and that maybe this will change someone else’s outlook on the idea of a fresh cooked tomatoes.

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Basic Ingredients:

  • At least 4 medium tomatoes.
  • 4+ oz of shredded mozzarella.
  • Chopped basil, fresh is recommended.
  • Italian seasoning, to taste.
  • Oil to grease your baking dish.
  • Salt & Pepper, if desired.

Optional Additions:

  • Pesto
  • Marinara
  • Chicken or Italian Sausage

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut and clean out your tomatoes into whole, halved, or quartered sections.
  3. Lay them out in an oiled baking dish in preparation to be filled.
  4. Add your cheese, optional filling, fresh chopped basil, additional mozzarella, and seasoning. I layer them in that order, sandwiching the filling in the middle of the cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven for approx. 20 minutes, cooking time may vary by oven. You can go as low as 10 minutes for much firmer tomato or as long as 30 minutes for a really soft tomato.
  6. Serve as your main dish or as a side to your favorite protein!

Nutrition for the basic baked tomato recipe (according to MFP):

  • 124 kcal
  • 8.8g protein
  • 8.7g fat
  • 4.1g carbs
  • 1g fiber
  • 3.1g NET carbs

Nutrition info will vary with ingredients used, weight of tomatoes, amount of cheese added, and any optional additions you decide to use.

 

Until my next post just remember,

Hydrate. Satiate. Celebrate!

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