26 August 2010

Tomatoes with Bacon and Basil

During my vegetarian years, an ex-boyfriend commented on how his "veg friends", while they didn't miss much in the realm of meat, constantly bemoaned the sacrifice of bacon in their diets. I found this a little eye-rolling, as most of my "veg friends" and myself at that time, didn't give much thought to the greasy slabs or feel deprived in any way for the lack of them.  

That said, I can see his point to a certain extent. Bacon, no matter how many soy substitutes are created to replicate its flavor, is unique. The smokey, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth greasiness oddly goes well with any number of accompanyments. Any Top Chef viewer has seen any number of chefs integrate it into dessert (from ice cream to creme anglaise), it also is a famous, classic breakfast side to French Toast (drizzled with syrup), eggs, biscuits, you name it. On the main course side, it adds complex flavor to braises and stews and also goes nicely with veggie sides.  

This recipe is a "deconstructed" BLT of sorts, minus the lettuce. It is a great showcase for the ripe-as-berries Tomatoes showing off in gardens and groceries alike. Combined with the side of spiced up mayo, and a hunk of toasty bread this makes a satisfying, simple weekday dinner.
Tomatoes with Bacon and Basil

Adapted from Laurent Tourondel, Food and Wine

4 Ripe medium sized Tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 slices bacon
Handful of basil (approximately 8 large leaves), torn or chopped roughly
1/2 chopped shallot (optional)
1 tbsp Red wine or sherry vinegar
3 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Spicy Mayonaise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs mustard
1/4 tsp Curry Powder
1/2 tsp Cajun Spice mix
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, minced

Crusty bread for serving. 

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes, basil, onion, olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Place parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet and arrange the bacon slices in a single layer . Bake the bacon in the upper third of the oven for 15 minutes, until golden and crisp. Let cool on paper towels, then break into small pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the mustard, curry powder, Cajun spice mix, lemon juice, garlic and hot sauce.

Sprinkle the bacon over the tomato salad and serve the mayonnaise and bread on the side.

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