Inspiration for use of garden bounty

The Baltimore Sun

Serving Up the Harvest

By Andrea Chesman

The Vegetarian Cook's Bible

By Pat Crocker

Robert Rose Inc. / 2007 / $22.95

"Eat your vegetables" is the no-nonsense message in author Pat Crocker's vegetarian cookbook. No lyrical passages about luscious, ripe tomatoes, no flights of fancy about the beauty of the garden on a summer morning. Just the facts about the health benefits of a variety of fruits, vegetables and greens.

The book is jampacked with nutritional information. And despite the book's somewhat schoolmarmish approach, the recipes are, for the most part, quite tasty. Spicy Soba Noodles get a rich, tangy flavor from cashew butter and candied ginger. Tomatoes stuffed with brown rice and shiitake mushrooms makes a quick weeknight dinner and boosts your immune system, too.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Basil and Shiitake Mushrooms

Serves 4

oil for pie plate

4 large tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps

1 cup cooked rice

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (divided use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil an 8-inch pie plate or shallow baking dish.

Core tomatoes and slice 1/4 inch off top. Scoop out seeds and juice to form a cavity. Chop tops and inside flesh. Set aside. Arrange tomatoes in prepared dish. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes or until soft. Add reserved chopped tomato, rice, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon stuffing equally into tomato cavities. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the parmesan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese melts and tomatoes begin to soften. Serve immediately.

From "The Vegetarian Cook's Bible" by Pat Crocker

Per serving: 198 calories, 6 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 89 milligrams sodium

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