There are recipes you make once, forget about, and leave behind you forever. And then there are those you make once that haunt you, confronting you at every opportunity, screaming, "Make me!" You find excuses, reasons not to - and then, one day, the perfect scenario materializes, and you finally scratch the itch.
I first made the BLTomatoes from the Gourmet Cookbook back in 2004, for my friend Louisa's 25th birthday party. The night was a blur of delicious food and bounteous booze, but one morsel went faster than the others. Louisa's now-husband and I cooked all afternoon; I went home to shower and returned about twenty minutes after the first guests had arrived. The 50 or 60 BLTomatoes we'd painstakingly prepared? They were gone. Gone!
BLTomatoes are pretty much exactly what they sound like - cherry or grape tomatoes stuffed with a combination of bacon, lettuce, mayonnaise, and scallions. They are a pain in the ass to make - you have to hollow out the tomatoes and stuff their tiny insides with the filling - but oh my god are they good. The tricks to taking them from tasty to lip-smacking? Use the best bacon you can find (I prefer Schaller & Weber's double-smoked.), don't skimp on the salt and pepper, and don't leave out the scallion. Its peppery bite is key.
And be patient with the trimming and seeding of the tomatoes - it can be slow-going (especially if you use grape tomatoes), but it's well worth the effort.
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
14 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. bacon, thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. thinly sliced romaine lettuce
2 tbs. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slice a tiny bit off of the bottom of each tomato (to help them stand upright on the plate). Cut off the tops of the tomatoes, and carefully scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes, then invert them on a paper towel. Set aside to drain while preparing the filling.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then crumble or chop finely. In a small bowl, gently mix the bacon with the scallion, lettuce, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until well-combined. Test the filling for seasoning; remember, you will be eating the tomato, too, so you want it to be a bit on the salty side.
Stuff each tomato full of the filling; eat any leftover filling yourself, straight off the spoon.
Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for up to five hours.
Makes 14 canapés.