A few coworkers had asked me about recipe ideas for a healthy workday lunch. I consider myself the Queen of Leftovers since that is pretty much all I take for lunch when I’m working. Working 12 hour days means it’s nearly impossible to get anything done besides working, eating and sleeping, and the last thing I feel like doing after getting home from work is figuring out what I have to take for lunch the next day. Prepacked containers of leftovers that I throw in my lunch bag make life much simpler. So I make an obscene amount of food for dinner when I’m off work with the intention of packing the leftovers for lunches. Let’s be honest, the non-cafeteria options where I work are less-than-healthy fast food, which is ironic for a hospital. And in the land of nursing, you’re not always sure when–or for how long–you’re going to be able to get off unit, not to mention having to then stand in line for food, leaving you with approximately 2.38 minutes to eat lunch. Basically, leftovers just makes lunch easier and healthier.
This recipe made approximately 6-7 servings, so if you don’t want that many stuffed tomatoes in your house, I would cut the quinoa ingredients in half. And while they’re great hot out of the oven, they taste good cold for leftovers the next day.
- 15 tomatoes
- 1.25 cups dry quinoa
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 3/4 cup feta crumbles
- 1/3 cup fresh chopped basil
- 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 egg whites
- Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400˚. Line two 9 x 13 baking dishes with parchment paper. Cut the tops off each tomato and discard. Using a spoon, remove the inner seeds and flesh of the tomato, leaving you with what looks like a little tomato bowl.
Warm a small saucepan to medium heat. Add your dry quinoa, and allow to toast for about 5-7 minutes, until you see a bit of browning on the quinoa kernels. Once the quinoa is equally toasted, add your 2.5 cups of water (be careful it will splatter). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes, until you see the white germ of the quinoa kernels separating from the rest of the kernel, telling you that your quinoa is done. Set aside to cool.
Combine the fennel, pine nuts, feta, basil, sun dried tomatoes and salt together in a large bowl. Add your cooked quinoa and toss the ingredients together. Add the egg whites and mix again. (The egg whites will prevent the mixture from getting dry when it bakes in the oven.) Fill each tomato bowl with the quinoa mixture. Leave about an inch or two of room between each tomato in your baking dish. Grate as much Parmesan as you’d like over the top of each tomato.
Cover your baking dishes with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the flesh of the tomato is starting to peel slightly away. Uncover and cook from another 5 minutes to get the top nice and crispy.