The garden's gift to busy cooks is a perfect cherry tomato. These bite-size containers bring the promise of summer onto any appetizer tray. Use an array of red cherry and tiny yellow pear-shaped tomatoes when they're available.
For a creative presentation, cut a thin slice to remove the tomato top (leaves attached), scoop out the seeds, fill the shell with pesto, and use the tomato top as a tiny lid.
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, preferably toasted
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste
To complete the recipe
12 cherry tomatoes
Paprika, fresh basil sprigs, and toasted walnut halves for garnish
To make the pesto: Process all the pesto ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until the mixture is a slightly chunky purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Halve the tomatoes horizontally. Using a small melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the seeds and juice. Fill each tomato shell with about 1 teaspoon of the pesto. Sprinkle lightly with paprika just before serving.
To serve, arrange the stuffed tomatoes on a plate and garnish with basil sprigs and walnut halves. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
The pesto will keep for up to 2 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. Stuff the tomatoes up to 4 hours before serving; cover and refrigerate.