Two winning tomato salad recipes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato Stack Salad
The first-place recipe in this year’s Top Tomato contest proves that a glorious, height-of-summer specimen needs only simple adornment to achieve winning results. Ellynne Brice Davis of Leonardtown, Md., got the idea from hors d’oeuvres of stuffed cherry tomatoes she had at parties earlier in the year: “This vertical presentation satisfies my craving for tomato, basil and mozzarella, all in a single serving,” she says. The addition of pecans to the filling and a fair amount of sugar in the dressing lend sweetness and crunch.
4 large ripe red tomatoes, trimmed level on the bottom
1/2 C. loosely packed basil leaves, rolled tightly and cut into very thin strips (chiffonade)
1/2 C. thinly shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. pecan halves, coarsely chopped and preferably toasted (see note)
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic pepper, such as McCormick brand
Spring mix greens, for serving
Lay the tomatoes on their sides on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to make 3 deep slits in each one, spaced evenly apart, being careful not to cut all the way through to the other side. Stand the tomatoes upright on the cutting board, so the slits are horizontal and the stems are on top.
Combine the basil, mozzarella cheese and pecans in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the sugar, oil, vinegar, salt and garlic pepper in a small bowl to form a dressing. Drizzle a small amount of the dressing into each tomato slit (just to moisten), then use the basil-cheese-pecan filling to fill the slits in each tomato.
Place a small amount of the greens on individual salad plates, then place a stuffed tomato on top of each portion. Drizzle the remaining dressing evenly over the filling in each serving. Chill briefly, if desired, before serving. Use any remaining dressing to drizzle around the greens on each plate.
Note: To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 325-degree oven, shaking the sheet occasionally, for 15 minutes. Watch carefully; nuts burn quickly.
Nutrition: Per serving: 346 calories, 6 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 27 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 437 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 22 g sugar
Tricolor Tomato Salad With Lime Sour Cream and Pesto
She’s done it again: Last year’s first-place Top Tomato winner, Mary Jo Sweeney of Crownsville, Md., gave us ‘Mato Sammidges.’ This time her individual layered salads took second place. Sweeney says she was looking to use up containers of sour cream, pesto and pine nuts ó all in the service of complementing tomatoes. Her salad looks very splashy served in a margarita glass.
Some tips from Sweeney: Adjust layered amounts to fit the size of your serving dishes. Add the lime juice to the sour cream in increments; a delicate citrus taste works best so it does not compete with the pesto and the acidity of the tomato. Don;t add the salt to the sour cream mixture until after you taste the pesto; the flavor of store-bought pestos varies widely.
Make ahead: The lime sour cream needs to be refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours to develop flavor.
Juice of 1 lime, plus the finely grated zest of half the lime (1 tablespoon juice plus 1/2 teaspoon zest)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 C. low-fat sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
About 8 Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped into chunks, then drained
8 ounces good-quality store-bought pesto (made with pine nuts and basil), at room temperature
3/4 C. pine nuts, toasted and chopped (see NOTE)
4 small sprigs basil, for garnish
Combine most of the lime juice and all of the zest, the cayenne pepper, sour cream and salt in a container with a tight-fitting lid; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to serve, have ready 4 footed clear glass dessert bowls (8- to 10-ounce capacity) or margarita glasses.
Divide the tomato chunks among the bowls, arranging them as a thick, packed layer in each one.
Spoon a thin layer of pesto over each portion of tomatoes, going to the edges of the glass so the layering can be seen.
Taste the lime sour cream; add the remaining lime juice as needed. Spread the lime sour cream completely across the top of each portion, adjusting the amount and thickness to personal taste. (You might not use an entire cup’s worth, depending on the serving dish size.)
Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and a sprig of basil. Serve immediately.
Note: Spread the pine nuts on a small baking sheet or in a pie plate. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 6 or 7 minutes or until golden brown. Watch closely, because they burn easily. Let cool completely.
Nutrition, per serving: 525 calories, 12 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 47 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 41 mg cholesterol, 679 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar.