Having bought a marrow on the market I wanted to find a simple recipe so I could stuff and bake it. I found several online and eventually decided on this very simple meat free version. It is worth spending time reducing the tomato mixture as this gives a really rich smooth sauce. Don’t stint on the basil either as it is delicious. If necessary dried basil could replace fresh, bearing in mind that as always with dried herbs you will need to use half the quantity of fresh. I have added a small amount of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, something I regularly add to most tomato based recipes. There are marrows everywhere on the market at the moment so we will be having this again!
I found the recipe for Baked Stuffed Marrow on the All Recipes site, but felt it needed to have the word ‘tomato’ added to the title. This is an ideal vegetarian main course, but it could also be served as a side dish or a simple starter before a fishy (but tomato free) main course. A variation is given on the site for ham and mushroom stuffed marrow rings (replacing the celery with 125g chopped mushrooms and 100g chopped lean ham, using only one tin of tomatoes and replacing the basil with parsley) plus a link is given for a meat filling.
Baked Tomato Stuffed Marrow
1 short thick marrow (about 900g) preferably evenly shaped
1 onion, chopped
celery sticks, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, chopped
a large pinch of sugar
3 tbsp shredded fresh basil
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
25g mature Cheddar, finely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil to garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 190oC/Gas 5. Lightly grease a large ovenproof dish.
2. Cut the marrow into eight rings, roughly 4cm thick – two per person. Unless the marrow is very young and tender remove the peel and take out the seeds. Season the rings lightly with salt and pepper and place them into the greased dish in a single layer.
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion and celery for about 5 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes with their juice, add the pinch of sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes reducing the mixture until thick. Stir in the shredded basil.
5. Spoon the tomato mixture into the hollowed-out marrow rings, spreading any leftover tomato mixture between the rings. Tightly cover the dish with foil to allow the marrow to cook in the steam and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, mix together the breadcrumbs and cheese. Remove the foil and sprinkle this mixture over the tops of the marrow rings. Return to the oven, baking for a further 15 minutes or until the topping is gold and crispy, with the marrow tender and juicy.
7. Serve hot, scattered with fresh basil leaves, if liked. It is recommended that this is served as a vegetarian main course with wholegrain bread and a leafy salad, but a smaller portion could be served alongside crispy bacon or ham as a side dish for those who want meat.