Heirloom Tomatoes with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Basil

After we dropped Evie and Mack at their sleepaway camp in Wisconsin, of course we had to stop at a little farm stand. As a city girl, it would be nearly impossible for me to not stock up on farm fresh produce while in Farmland, USA!

As I perused the farm stand’s offerings, I was instantly drawn to the perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes. I knew just what to make with them!

I tore this recipe out of Gourmet Magazine in July 2003. Long before I was married or had kids. Not too long before that magazine quit publishing. The recipe has traveled with me through several moves and life changes because it represents *summer* to me:
this recipe can only be made with summer tomatoes! I simply cannot make this recipe in January because tomatoes then are just too dreary.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Basil

6 slices firm white sandwich bread

1/4 lb sliced bacon (about 5 slices)

6 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar

4 assorted medium heirloom tomatoes (2 lb total), cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-thick slices

30 small fresh basil leaves

1 1/2 oz blue cheese (preferably Maytag Blue), crumbled, at room temperature

Garnish: very small heirloom cherry or currant tomatoes

Cut 1 round from each bread slice with cookie cutter.

Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off bacon fat from skillet and reserve fat (do not clean skillet).

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast 3 bread rounds, turning over once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer toasts to a rack to cool and season with salt and pepper. Toast remaining 3 bread rounds in 1 1/2 tablespoons more oil in same manner.

Cook shallot in 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute. Season dressing with salt and pepper and keep warm, covered.

Crumble bacon. Arrange bread rounds on 6 plates and divide tomato slices among them, stacking slices and sprinkling some basil and bacon between slices. Sprinkle cheese and remaining basil and bacon over and around tomatoes. Spoon some of warm bacon dressing over and around tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Cooks’ notes:

·Toasts can be made 3 hours ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
·Dressing can be made 1 hour ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before proceeding. ·Tomatoes can be sliced 1 hour ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

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