Add This Ancient Roman Inspired Tomato Concoction to Any Brunch (and Highly Consider it for Easter too!)
With the upcoming Easter holiday it is time to start planning the menu. My family’s traditions celebrating Easter always involve eggs both in baskets and on the Sunday brunch menu.
My grandmother would make large gallon jars of pickled eggs with beets. It always required serious concentration to fish those eggs out. And I can still picture my sister as child standing on a chair, bent over the jar with a ladle in one hand and her other hand holding the lip of the jar while unconsciously protruding her tongue trying to secure one.
The stuffed version (known in my family as "deviled eggs"), features heavy mayo, mustard and spices. It also frequently made its way to the table—those were MY favorite.
And while the egg has been widely celebrated by many cultures around the world for all types of celebrations—even long before Christianity adopted it as an Easter symbol—versions of it appear all over.
This stuffed tomato version is the one I’m bringing to the table for Easter brunch this year.
A little HISTORY of the Stuffed Egg
The history of the stuffed “deviled” egg 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.”
This takes me back to my travels to Rome in the early 2000s when I spent a hot and humid three days visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City and the Coliseum. I remember when I saw my first Michelangelo (the Peita), and the overwhelming wonder and amazement as I experienced the Sistine Chapel for the first time. Even though I didn’t have any eggs on that trip, I had plenty versions of the tomato.
The tomato as an egg
On Easter 2017, I went to a vegan brunch. Keeping with tradition, I wanted eggs but took a different approach replacing eggs with tomatoes. Heck, why not? The shape is similar and comes with all of the same nostalgia.
The idea wasn’t novel. Someone with an affinity for the creamy stuff created a recipe, but I applied my own approach. And they turned out delicious.
Notes About My Approach
To create vegan stuffed tomato eggs, 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 chickpeas.
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.
First, I made the vegan mayonnaise exactly as as suggested in the recipe above from Serious Eats. 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 tomato shells just before we were ready to eat. They kept well. So feel free prepare your ingredients at least one day in advance.
Ingredients (Slightly adapted from VegKitchen)
Add to a food processor:
One 15 oz. can of chickpeas minus the aquafaba used to make the vegan mayonnaise (link and notes above)
⅓ cup prepared vegan mayonnaise from the Serious Eats recipe referenced above
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 spices 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.