Sally Butcher, author of “The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian,” says this dish was Iraqi-inspired and is good for a Sunday supper. It would also work as an unusual brunch buffet item for guests.
This recipe calls for za’atar seasoning. This is reasonably available from spice collections such as Penzey’s, a supermarket with a wide range of spices and spice blends or an international market. Za’atar, as Butcher explains, literally means “thyme.” But the blend is usually a mix of ground thyme with sumac, a little salt and sesame. Also, “every household makes it differently,” she says.
Cheese-Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
8 big tomatoes
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 pita loaves or 1 sheet Khobez (Arabic bread)
3 1/2 ounces grated cheese
1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning
Cut tops from the tomatoes and scoop out the flesh inside using a pointy teaspoon or a melon-baller (if anyone has such a thing any more.) Put the tomato shells to one side, and chop the inside bits, retaining as much of the juice as possible. Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the onion; when it becomes translucent add the garlic, marjoram and turmeric. After a few minutes, add the chopped tomato.
Toast the bread and lay it on the bottom of a greased oven dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon a little of the oniony mix into each of the tomato shells, and smear the rest across the bread. Nestle the tomatoes into the dish, and then crack an egg inside each one.Top with cheese and a sprinkling of za’atar.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or until the eggs have set. Serve with additional warm bread.
From “The New Middle Eastern Table” by Sally Butcher