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Stuffed tomatoes are an elegant but quick treat

SHARE Stuffed tomatoes are an elegant but quick treat

fast. While the word "garnish" is the last to come to mind on weeknights when we're struggling to get a meal on the table, June starts the season of parties.

Whether it's a potluck brunch for the year's last PTA meeting, a bridesmaid's lunch, or a baby shower, we can all use a recipe for easy entertaining. Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes is a favorite standby for us because it's so attractive and rich-tasting that guests always assume you worked a lot harder than you did to make it.This recipe is especially easy if you purchase already-cooked chicken, which is widely available from the meat case or supermarket deli. Leftover cooked turkey breast works equally well. Be sure to choose the largest, ripest tomatoes you can find to serve as the "bowls" for the chicken salad.

Finally, this recipe offers three serving options - cold, broiled or baked - depending on the time available and personal preference. Broiled, the chicken filling is warm on top and cool in the center. Baked, the filling is warm throughout.

If you do find yourself with an extra moment, these stuffed tomatoes are even prettier garnished with a sprig of basil or parsley, some snipped chives, or even a chive flower.

Menu: Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes, fruit cup, bread sticks.

CHICKEN SALAD STUFFED TOMATOES

1 stalk celery

12 ounces (about 21/2 cups) cooked chicken or turkey

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup already-shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon onion powder

6 large, ripe, unpeeled tomatoes (3/4 pound to 1 pound each)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Turn on the broiler or preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse and chop the celery, and put it in a 3-quart or larger bowl. Using a chef's knife, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and add them to the bowl. Add the walnuts, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese and onion powder. Stir until well-combined.

Cut a 1/4-inch slice off the stem end of each unpeeled tomato. Cut out the core and enough flesh to make a bowl, leaving the wall of the tomato intact. Using your fingers or a small spoon, remove the tomato seeds. (Rinse away the seeds and shake to remove excess water if necessary.) Lightly salt and pepper each tomato cavity to personal preference.

Place the tomatoes in 2 shallow dishes, such as pie plates. Spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture into each tomato cavity. (Tomatoes may be served cold at this point or covered and refrigerated overnight.) If serving immediately, place the tomatoes under the broiler and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the chicken salad just browns on top and the tomato is warm. Or bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken salad is warm throughout. Serves 6.

- Approximate Values Per Serving: 359 calories (46 percent from fat), 19 g fat (5 g saturated), 58 mg cholesterol, 25 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 297 mg sodium.