Add This Ancient Roman Inspired Tomato Concoction to Any Brunch
Celebrating Easter involves eggs in baskets and on the Sunday brunch menu. My grandmother on my father’s side always had a large gallon jar of pickled eggs with beets on the buffet. It required serious concentration to fish an egg out of the jar. (I can still picture my sister, who absolutely loved them, standing on a chair, bent over the jar with a ladle in one hand, holding the lip of the jar with the other and unconsciously protruding her tongue while trying to secure an egg.) The stuffed version (known to me as "deviled eggs"), with heavy mayo, mustard and spices, also frequently made its way to the table—those were MY favorite.
The egg has been widely celebrated by many cultures around the world as a sign of fertility, new birth and new beginnings—even long before Christianity adopted it as an Easter symbol—gifted or decorated for all such occasions .
The history of the stuffed deviled version can be traced all the way back to Italy. According to history.com, deviled eggs (sometimes called salad or mimosa eggs), originated in Rome, “where eggs were boiled, seasoned with spicy sauces and then typically served at the beginning of a meal—as a first course known as gustatio—for wealthy patricians.”
Writing about this takes me back to my travels to Rome in the early 2000s. (Rome has been on my mind a lot lately because of its ties to my recent travels, especially with regard to writing about Masada.) At that time, my brother was living in Germany and I accompanied him on several road trips throughout Europe.
It was mid-summer and a hot and humid three days visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican City and Museums and the ancient ruins, such as the Coliseum. I remember the emotions and goosebumps when I saw my first Michelangelo (the Peita), and the overwhelming wonder and amazement as I experienced the Sistine Chapel for the first time. I want to go back, but I digress.
Easter 2017, I went to a vegan brunch. Keeping with tradition, I took a different approach to stuffed eggs, replacing eggs with tomatoes. The shape is similar with all of the nostalgia.
This idea wasn’t a novel one, however. Someone else with an affinity for the creamy stuff created a recipe, but I applied my own approach. And they turned out delicious.
To create the vegan stuffed tomatoes, I used a combination of two complementary recipes: Deviled Tomatoes by VegKitchen and Easy Vegan Mayonnaise (With Aquafaba) Recipe by Serious Eats. The base of the entire concoction is a can of chick peas. The vegan mayonnaise requires aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chick peas, and the filling is primarily a chick pea mixture. So, the two recipes pair nicely.
Notes About My Approach
First, I made the vegan mayonnaise exactly as as suggested in the recipe. Then, I reserved the remaining chickpeas for the deviled tomato recipe, slightly altering the recipe as follows.
I assembled the tomato tray just before brunch. So, I prepared the tomato shells and stored them face down on a paper towel overnight. I recommend preparing the tomatoes in advance so they don't make the mixture watery. I also made the filling one day in advance and stored it in an airtight container, and filled the shells just before we were ready to eat. They kept well. Feel free prepare your ingredients at least one day in advance.
Ingredients (Slightly adapted from VegKitchen)
- Add to a food processor:
- The remaining portion of one 15 oz. can of chickpeas after making the vegan mayonnaise (link above)
- ⅓ cup prepared vegan mayonnaise from Serious Eats recipe
- 1.5 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, or more, to taste
- ½ teaspoon curry powder, or more, to taste
- Pinch of ground cumin, or more, to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
- Pinch of smoked paprika to taste
- Pinch of onion powder
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
- Halve and hollow 6 to 8 whole ripe fresh small Roma tomatoes (depending on size) or other small tomatoes. (I found that the original recipe did not fill the suggested number of tomatoes. I ended up doubling the recipe and then adding a little bit of Dijon mustard to balance the taste of the filling.)
Instructions From VegKitchen (only slightly adapted from the original)
Combine the chickpeas, mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and suggested spicesr in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse on and off until the mixture is nicely blended, but don't puree—leave a little texture.
If you don't have a food processor, simply mash the chickpeas well in a bowl, and stir in the mayonnaise and all ingredients except the tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seedy center with a spoon. You'll be left with a shell (save what you've scooped out for another use, such as blending into a juice or sauce).
Stuff the tomatoes generously with the chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with fresh chives. Arrange on a platter.