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Black Tomato Cups Stuffed with Quinoa Pilaf

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

All the flavors of the autumn harvest with some end-of-summer accents!

Black Tomato Cups Stuffed with Quinoa Pilaf
Perfect for a grownup Halloween celebration, resembling black pumpkins or witches' cauldrons.

What are often referred to as black heirloom tomatoes are really heirlooms with purplish-brown skin and wine-colored flesh. They are sweet and delicious, the perfect vessels for a flavorful and textural plant-based quinoa pilaf. Kernels from the last of the summer corn work beautifully with any cooked winter squash of your choosing. Turmeric not only provides an extra healthful dimension but adds a pop of seasonal color as well. Nigella seeds are a triple threat of flavor, texture, and color. Serve these tomato cup beauties for lunch or dinner, room-temperature or cold, as main dish or side dish.  

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; spoon; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; large sauté pan; wooden spoon


1 cup quinoa 1 tablespoon turmeric powder

6 black tomatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil kernels from 2 ears of corn

6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 cups diced cooked winter squash (delicata, kabocha, or butternut), 2 tablespoons pepitas 1 teaspoon nigella seeds 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

parsley leaves for garnish

1. First prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions, adding turmeric to the liquid (be it water or stock). Set aside.

2. Prepare the tomato cups. Using a small serrated knife, remove the tops of the tomatoes as you would the tops of pumpkins when carving jack-o-lanterns by piercing the perimeter of the stem with the knife and moving it slowly up and down as you move the knife in a circle.

ILOC tip: the tomato cups will hold more quinoa filling and have better structure if the tops are removed vertically as opposed to horizontally. It's all about technique, not torture!

3. Using a small spoon, remove the seeds and flesh of the tomatoes so that what remains are clean tomato cups. Reserve the seeds and flesh for another use, such as salsa, gazpacho, tomato sauce, or soup. Set aside the tomato cups and tops.

4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan, then add the corn kernels and sliced scallions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions have softened. Stir in the cooked winter squash, pepitas, nigella seeds, and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Mix the sautéed vegetables with the cooked quinoa and stir well to combine. Taste and season as needed with additional salt and pepper.

6. Season the cavity of each tomato with salt and pepper. Fill with the quinoa pilaf. Top with additional parsley leaves, or with a tomato lid. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Makes 6 servings.

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