If you love the Italian trifecta of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, you won’t want to miss these caprese couscous stuffed tomatoes.
Why you’ll love it: It’s the classic summer caprese, but with a fun new twist!
How long it takes: 45 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: baking dish, bowl, spoon
Bright red vine ripened tomatoes, packed full of melty fresh mozzarella, couscous, and vivid green basil, make a lasting impression. Perfect for a light lunch, a vegetarian entrée, or an unforgettable side dish, caprese stuffed tomatoes are the ultimate in summer cuisine.
The traditional caprese combination has pleased our palates in a variety of ways. Don’t you just love a margherita pizza with those yummy circles of soft mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil? Simple perfection!
And I’m a fool for this hot caprese dip! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned my mouth on this dip because I just can’t wait to shovel it in. On a somewhat healthier note, chicken caprese casserole is always welcome, too.
About this recipe
When you stuff anything, it looks like you spent tons of time fussing. The presentation is sort of impressing. In reality (don’t tell anyone!), stuffed tomatoes are really quite easy to make.
This is a quick overview of the recipe. As always, you’ll find the complete recipe card at the end of this post.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Tomatoes: You’ll need six ripe, but still firm, tomatoes. Try to find tomatoes that are approximately the same size. Vine-ripened tomatoes will taste the best.
- Couscous: Use regular couscous, not pearl or Israeli couscous. You can find whole wheat couscous at Trader Joe’s or Bob’s Red Mill, among other places.
- Fresh Mozzarella Pearls: Pearls are the small “pearl-sized” fresh mozzarella balls. You’ll find fresh mozzarella balls packaged in liquid (whey), in plastic containers in the deli section of the grocery store. If you can’t find mozzarella pearls, buy larger balls and cut them into smaller pieces.
- Parmesan Cheese: Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese adds a lot of salty flavor.
- Basil: You’ll want fresh basil for this caprese dish. It’s a basic component of anything caprese.
- Seasoning: Simple seasonings of garlic powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper are all you need.
For added flavor, drizzle tomatoes with Balsamic Glaze. Try making your own balsamic glaze, which is simply a reduction of balsamic vinegar. It’s really easy. You can also buy it at the store, there are a number of brands available.
How to make couscous stuffed tomatoes
The prep time for these stuffed tomatoes is about twenty minutes and the cook time is 25 minutes. Let’s get started!
Begin by cooking the couscous if you haven’t done that already. It’s easy to cook. Simply bring water to a boil, add the couscous, cover the pan, turn off the heat and steam for five minutes.
Next, prepare the tomatoes. Cut the tops off and lightly scrape out excess seeds and pulp. Place the tomatoes on paper towels, cut side down, to drain while you prepare the filling.
Mix the stuffing ingredients: couscous, mozzarella, Parmesan, and seasonings.
Lightly pack the tomatoes with the couscous mixture and place the tomatoes in a baking dish. It’s okay (and encouraged!) to mound the filling.
Bake until the tomatoes are tender, the insides are warm, and the cheese is melty. Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over each tomato and sprinkle with basil. So yummy!
While it may look like a grain, couscous is really a very small pasta made of crushed durum wheat seminola. It originated in North Africa and is traditionally served with stews (Wikipedia).
There are two main types of couscous: the small quick cooking couscous or the larger Israeli or pearl couscous. We love using the Israeli version in this one pan Mediterranean chicken.
If you’re wondering how to say caprese, have no fear. Say it like this: Kuh-pray-zee.
Hint: It does not sound like the three quarter length slacks called capris (kuh-preez). If you get it wrong, oh well, who’s judging anyways?
Look for a vine-ripened tomato because they taste the best. That’s the most important criteria. What variety to use is less important. I love many of the heirloom tomatoes available at farm markets. Romas are a little too small, so try to choose something a little larger for easier stuffing.
Summer is the prime time to find perfect tomatoes. You may have a garden full of them! If tomatoes aren’t in season, try shakshuka, another main dish featuring tomatoes, which uses canned tomatoes.
How to make these stuffed tomatoes your own
While variations to this recipe may make it “not Caprese,” there are ways to change it up. Here’s a few ideas:
- Stuff peppers instead tomatoes. Stuffed peppers are always a hit and bell peppers may be easier to find in winter months than vine-ripened tomatoes. For directions on how to prepare the peppers for filling, check out this recipe for Southwestern stuffed peppers.
- Amp up the veggies. Add finely chopped spinach to amp up the veggie content. You could also add finely diced onion, mushrooms, or carrots but sauté them briefly before mixing them in with the stuffing ingredients.
- Make it gluten-free. Substitute cooked quinoa for the couscous.
- Sub in another type of cheese. Not crazy about fresh mozzarella? Try regular shredded mozzarella or another type of cheese.
Make Ahead Ideas
Couscous stuffed tomatoes can be completely prepared ahead of time, up to a day in advance, and refrigerated until ready to bake. Add about ten minutes to the baking time.
Or if you prefer, prepare the couscous, and stir up the stuffing ahead of time. Refrigerate it until you’re ready to stuff the tomatoes.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Leftover stuffed tomatoes can be wrapped securely and refrigerated up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350℉ for ten to fifteen minutes or until heated through. You can easily reheat them in your microwave in 30 second increments until the insides are warm and the cheese is soft.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this stuffed tomato recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #34. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
If you have a few stuffed tomatoes left over and you want them to look a little different the second time around, chop them up. Sauté a few extra veggies such as spinach, mushrooms, onion, etc. in a little olive oil, and add the chopped stuffed tomatoes to that, stirring and heating.
More stuffed delights
Take a plain vegetable, stuff it with all sorts of good “stuff”, and voila! You have yourself a gourmet delight! Try:
- Chicken Fajita Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Pizza Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Coq Au Vin Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe
- Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms Recipe
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Apples
- Cheese and Pesto Stuffed Zucchini or Boursin Cheese Stuffed Zucchini
- Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers – Southwestern
- Quinoa, Kale and Bacon Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Southwestern Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers — a great appetizer!
- 6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (look for ripe, but still firm, tomatoes)
- 1 ½ cups cooked couscous (¾ cup uncooked, cooked according to package directions)
- ¾ cup fresh mozzarella pearls
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil more for garnish
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- balsamic glaze for serving
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Prepare shallow baking dish by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
- Slice top off tomatoes. Scoop out excess pulp and seeds. Place upside down on paper towels to drain any remaining liquid while you prepare stuffing.
- In a large bowl, combine couscous, mozzarella, basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Fill each tomato with stuffing mixture, pressing firmly. Place stuffed tomatoes in prepared baking dish.
- Bake at 400ºF for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are tender and cheese is melted. Serve immediately drizzled with balsamic glaze and more fresh basil, if desired.
- Substitute cooked quinoa for the couscous to make this dish gluten-free.
- Not crazy about fresh mozzarella? Try regular shredded mozzarella or another type of cheese.
- Stuffed tomatoes can be completely prepared ahead of time, up to a day in advance, and refrigerated until ready to bake. Add about ten minutes to the baking time.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.