Sunday, August 21, 2011

TomMmmato Appetizer

As I mentioned in the last post, I have tomatoes coming out of my ears.  Our Farm Fresh box was full of slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and heirloom tomatoes this weekend.  Tonight we were going to dinner at our momma's house, so I only needed to prepare an appetizer.  This is a great summer dish that can also be eaten as a lunch (or add some chicken and you have a whole meal, honestly).  I, of course, add bacon to everything, but it can be omitted for a vegetarian version. 

The Meat
- 4 pieces bacon, crispy and crumbled

The Veggies
- 2 summer squashes, sliced
- 1/4 eggplant, diced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- pan drippings 
- salt, pepper, basil, oregano, dill to taste

- 1 large slicing tomato, chopped
- 12-15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh mozzarella balls
- 1/2 pack soft cheese (read below)
- salt, pepper, basil, oregano, marjoram, onion powder to taste
- green onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup raw spinach, sliced

This dish has two stages of prep - hot prep and cold prep.  While the squash/bacon/eggplant part should be served warm, I intentionally keep the rest of the appetizer chilled, so that way the tomatoes stay fresh and don't get mushy, and the cheese also stays solid instead of getting gooey.  

First I fried up the bacon in my griddle pan and then crumbled it and set it aside.  I simmered the spiced eggplant and squash with the water, olive oil, and leftover bacon grease for around 20 minutes until everything is soft and cooked through.  Then I mixed in the warm bacon.

In my large bowl I mixed together the tomatoes, spices, and oil, making a nice tomato salad. I added the mozzarella and this AMAZING Foggy Morning Cheese that we picked up at our farmers' market.  It is soft and mild, creamy like goat's cheese but made from cow's milk.  It's fantastic and pairs with the fresh mozzarella awesomely.  

When it is time to serve, toss the warm ingredients (including pan drippings) with the chilled tomato mixture.  Sprinkle the sliced raw spinach and green onion on top to make it look pretty and add a bit of freshness and crispness to your dish.  Whomever you serve this to will love the soft cheeses, the bursts of fresh tomato, the crunch of the bacon, and the savory soft squash.  It's a winner.

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