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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lemon Walnut Salad with Basil Cream Cheese Stuffed Roasted Tomato

Simplicity reigns in the summer. There is really no reason to over-complicate recipes when you have fresh, garden vegetables at your discretion. And we all have them available to- some people will be able to walk out their back door and pick them while the rest of us will pay a pretty little penny for them!

At any point throughout tomato season you will find a tomato bread salad in my refrigerator; I love the way the crunchy croutons give depth to this classic tomato and cucumber salad. However, there is a time for change and since I'm out of cucumbers, balsamic vinegar and croutons, now is that time.

Roasting the tomatoes and stuffing with a little cream cheese and basil worked great for a tasty little appetizer but it felt lonely. Serving them on a bed of lettuce drizzled with fresh lemon, olive oil and toasted walnuts turned this into a lovely summer starter.

My tomatoes were about two to threes times the size of a typical cherry tomato, but any size will do the trick. In this one case, size doesn't matter; it's the Fat and Happy fresh summer flavor that will be remembered.

Fat and Happy Food Blog Tips and Techniques:  For even more ease you could skip the roasting process and serve these stuffed tomatoes cold, it's just a matter of preference. I like the warm cheese against the cold lettuce.

Lemon Walnut Salad 
Basil Cream Cheese Stuffed Roasted Tomato  

This is a loose recipe, adjust for the amount and size of tomatoes you have.

2 oz Cream cheese
handful of Fresh basil
Olive oil
1 Lemon, quarterd
Toasted walnuts
Salt and fresh black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife slice a very thin piece off of the bottom of the tomato so that it stands without rocking. Then cut a hole in the top of the tomato, hollowing out the insides (save these insides on a cutting board) but be sure to leave structure to the tomato so that the wall stand up.

Place all the tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh pepper. Place in the oven to roast about 10 minutes. The tomatoes should begin to soften but not loose their structure.

Chop the tomato guts, place in a medium sized bowl. Chop the fresh basil and add to the tomato bowl along with the cream cheese. Mix to combine.

Fill the roasted tomatoes with the cream cheese using either a pastry bag or just using spoons. Place stuffed tomatoes back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is gooey.

Layer a few lettuce leaves on each salad plate and top with a couple of the stuffed, roasted tomatoes. Add a sprinkling of toasted walnuts along with a drizzle of olive oil. Squeeze one quarter of a lemon over the top and finish with just a pinch of salt and pepper.

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