With one child at camp and the other staying with grandparents this week, one would think we’d have had ample time to prepare homemade dinners. But instead, it was a taxing and thankfully uncommon week of 12-hour work days and too little sleep. Except for our morning espresso and an occasional piece of toast, the kitchen went unused.
Each evening we intended add a post to Due Spaghetti, but each night we ran out of time and put it off until tomorrow. It got so bad that today when we opened up our blog, we were asked to re-enter our user-id and password. The “remember me” box had come unchecked; our own blog had unfriended us.
Ironically, we had a post ready to go. We’d made these adorable stuffed cherry tomatoes, pomodorini ripieni, a few weeks back when we were trying out recipes for the Washington Post’s Top Tomato Recipe Contest. They didn’t make the shortlist of recipes we chose to submit to the contest, but they are delicious and pretty, and deserved to be featured on Due Spaghetti.
The problem was, we didn’t measure our ingredients while we were preparing the stuffed cherry tomatoes. This isn’t surprising, as we rarely measure when we cook. We just add what looks right, feels right, and tastes right. This, we believe, is part of what we love about cooking; it is not so much an intellectual endeavor, but instead an activity that engages the senses and the emotions.
When Stefano’s mom explains to us how to prepare a dish, she sometimes omits key steps or ingredients and jumps directly to the finer points of execution. In the early days, we’d make the mistake of backing up and seeking clarification on a basic part of the recipe, only to have her smile in surprise and tell us, “Of course!” revealing that what we had asked was so obvious that it does not need to be stated.
When writing on Due Spaghetti, though, we take the time to list specific amounts for ingredients so our readers are not left guessing and recipes are authentically prepared. In order to post the cherry tomato recipe, we needed to make it again to confirm the precise quantities of tuna, mayo and capers.
We’ve debated this topic before, with Cara taking the position that our readers deserve an accurate and specific recipe, and Stefano maintaining that through Due Spaghetti we can teach our readers to cook the way his mother and grandmother did – a superior form of cooking which develops from trusting intuition and experience to determine when more salt is needed in a sauce, or when the texture and consistency of a dough is perfect.
In the end, the week passed and we never managed to recreate the pomodori ripieni. On the positive side, we had a few excellent meals out, including a spectacular dinner at La Chaya Bistro and an engaging conversation with chef/proprietor Juan Juarez Garcia, which we will write about soon. But we need to get back to blogging and as a result we are going to post our recipe without specifying quantities for the ingredients, trusting our readers to make wise and inspired decisions about what looks right, feels right and tastes right to them.
These tuna-stuffed cherry tomatoes are a pretty appetizer or party food. They can be arranged on an interesting plate or platter, or skewered for easy serving.
Tuna in olive oil
Flat leaf Italian parsley
Wash cherry tomatoes and slice the tops off of them. Carefully core the cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a small spoon. Set the hollowed tomatoes upside down unto a baking tray and allow the juices to drain.
Dice the tomato pulp, and add it along with the juices and seeds into a bowl. Drain the tuna and stir into the tomato mixture. We used between 1 and 2 cans of tuna for each pint of cherry tomatoes. Add mayonnaise to the creaminess level of your preference. Rinse a handful of capers quickly under water, dice them add them to the mixture. You can use more or fewer capers according to preference. Chop a bunch of flat leaf parsley finely, and stir it into the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully stuff the tuna mixture into the cherry tomatoes, taking care not to tear the tomato walls. If you wish, garnish with a small dollop of mayonnaise.