This dish is perfect for when you want a meatless meal but still want to eat hearty. Silky collards come together with garlic, cheese, and whole grain bread for a savory stuffing that hits all the right spots. The tomatoes caramelize and sweeten while baking, filling the kitchen with an incredible aroma. Don't forget to wash the collards well - use 2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon of water - and use the youngest greens you can find for the most tender leaves. I like to pick my own greens at one of our local farms, or grab them from one of my favorite farm markets. You can get fresh herbs pretty much everywhere, but I am lucky to have a bounty in my garden!
6-8 medium tomatoes
2 lbs. fresh collard greens, stemmed and washed
1 tablespoon sea salt
2-3 slices day old whole grain bread, cubed
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 c. Gruyere cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Olive oil, for drizzling
1. Place the washed greens and salt in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander, then dump all of the greens into a clean dish cloth. Bundle the cloth at the top, then squeeze the bottom to get as much of the water out of the greens as you can. Dump the greens onto a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 325F.
3. Cut off the top of each tomato. Carefully hollow out each tomato with a teaspoon. Save the tops and scooped out insides for another purpose. Place the hollowed out tomatoes in a shallow casserole dish or in a half hotel pan.
4. In a large bowl, add the bread crumbs, and moisten with the heavy cream. Add the chopped up greens, gruyere cheese, garlic, green onions, and thyme. Mix gently to combine and season with salt and black pepper to taste. (I find that the greens, cheese, and bread have enough salt so I don't add any.)
5. Fill each tomato with the stuffing and drizzle lightly with olive oil. (My kids like when bit of stuffing bakes in the pan around the tomatoes because it gets very crispy!)
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked and the tops have browned. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.