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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Ample Bites Farm Update #3

Despite an extended drought and a string of high temperatures in the 90s the Ample Bites vegetable garden is in full bloom. The green beans have recovered from an early season infestation of some type of bug, probably an aphid of some sort. The garden has already yielded several meals worth of lettuce and spinach and a few zucchini – with many more to come soon.

The tomato plants look like they will produce a bounty of beautiful and delicious fruit.

Less than a month from juicy tomatoes

The mustard greens are the most recent harvest.

These beautiful, healthy greens were prepared using the following recipe:

Mustard Greens with Chipotle and Bacon

Serves 10

2 ¾ lb curly mustard greens (2-3 bunches), stems and coarse ribs discarded
4 bacon slices, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp minced canned chipotles in adobo
½ tsp salt

Coarsely chop greens, then cook in 2 batches in a 6-8 quart pot of boiling salted water uncovered, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of cold water to stop cooking process. Drain greens in a colander, pressing gently to release excess moisture.

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, 4-5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet. Add oil, chipotle, greens and salt to fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with bacon.

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Which Ingredient is the Star of the BLT?

The star of most Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich is usually acknowledged to be either the big, juicy summer tomato or the thick, salty bacon or both of those savory ingredients. A good, toasted sourdough bread, a rye or a hearty whole grain wheat is essential, but the toasted bread is largely a canvas for the artistry of this summer treat. Some diners feel that the vegetables and the decadent fatty meat taste best when accented with a rich fresh mayonnaise.

This delicious BLT recipe features a garlic aioli in place of a traditional mayonnaise to dress the sandwich.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches with Garlic Aioli

Serves 4

1 pound of bacon cooked to just before crisp
8 slices of wheat, rye or sourdough bread, toasted
8 generous slices of garden ripe tomatoes
8 pieces of Romaine lettuce
4 heaping tablespoons of Garlic Aioli (see recipe below)

For each sandwich dress the inside of each piece of the toasted bread with roughly 1/2 tablespoon of the garlic aioli. Place two pieces of lettuce, two slices of tomato and two – four slices of bacon on the lower half of the sandwich. Top with the other piece of bread, dressing side down. Slice in half or diagonally and serve immediately.

Garlic Aioli

Makes about 2 cups

1 large egg
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, blend the egg, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic together for 20 seconds. In 1 to 2 tablespoon amounts, add the oil and continuously blend until thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pulse once of twice to blend.

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