Another Summer Tomato Dish

With a bounty of summer tomatoes about to descend upon us Ample Bites thought it might be high time to start sharing more tomato recipes. Today’s dish is better for cooler summer days that the 100+ degree scorcher we have going on in the Midwest right now but I should share it now so you can use it later.

This is a simple baked dish with a stuffing that incorporates fresh summer basil with Italian sausage and bread crumbs.

Sausage and Basil-Stuffed Tomatoes
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012)

Serves 8

8 medium tomatoes, preferably with stems intact
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¾ lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 small green bell pepper, diced
½ large onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced, plus a handful of celery leaves
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 cups bread cubes (from about ½ baguette)
1 cup fresh basil
½ cup walnut pieces (optional)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F. Using a serrated knife, slice off the top quarter of each tomato and reserve the tops. Scoop out the pulp from inside each tomato and transfer it to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the cayenne to the food processor and process until smooth; pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, herbs de Provence, bell pepper, onion, diced celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the sausage browns, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage mixture and bread cubes to the food processor and pulse until chopped. Pack the tomatoes with the sausage-bread mixture so the stuffing is domed on top. Put the stuffed tomatoes in the baking dish on top of the sauce.

Place the basil, walnuts, cheese and celery leaves in the food processor and chop. Sprinkle onto the tomatoes. Put the tomato tops, cut side down, between the stuffed tomatoes. Bake until the stuffing is golden, about 20 minutes. Cover each tomato with a top and serve with the sauce.

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