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~ Baked Tomato, Jasmine Rice & Panko Casserole (My Secret Ingredient? White Balsamic Vinaigrette!) ~

IMG_1683Tomorrow is the first day of Fall and I just spent the morning harvesting what will be my last basket of tomatoes from Joe's garden.  I won't lie.  For me, tomatoes, the big round juicy kind, are my favorite Summer thing to eat and this was a banner year for them here in Central PA.  Since mid-July, I've been eating 1-2-3 of them every day for lunch, sometimes sliced with salt and pepper, other days, on a salad or in a sandwich.  I'm genuinely going to be sorry to see them go!

IMG_1583Because this last basket is quite substantial (our vines just didn't want to quit this year), I've decided to spend the weekend posting two of my favorite tomato casserole recipes to make use of these beauties.  Today's recipe, which is really easy to make, is one of my favorites, and, I particulary love it served alongside a thick piece of broiled white fish (like haddock)!

IMG_1655The thing I like the most about this side-dish casserole, besides how great it tastes, is: while it is a very good way to use up more than a few garden tomatoes, eight nice big ones that are still at their peak (like I am doing today), it is also a great recipe to have on hand to enhance the flavor of lack-luster store-bought tomatoes during the upcoming Winter months!

PICT0003For the basic white balsamic vinaigrette:

1  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup vegetable oil

1/2  cup sugar

2  tablespoons Dijon mustard

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined.

PICT1176~ Step 2.  To vinaigrette, add:  2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend

PICT1182For the rice mixture & topping:

3  cups uncooked jasmine rice

6  tablespoons salted butter

1  14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

2  teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning 

1  cup panko breadcrumbs

~ Step 1.  Using measuring cup that comes with rice steamer add 3 cups of rice to steamer.  Using same cup to measure, add 3 1/2 cups of water.  Stir.  Turn on, to steam.

PICT1189~ Step 2.  When rice is steamed. Slice the butter into pieces and add it to the hot rice.  Using a large spoon, gently stir until butter is melted and rice is coated in melted butter.

PICT1200~ Step 3. Add the diced tomatoes and lemon-pepper seasoning.  Gently but thoroughly combine ingredients.  Set aside.

IMG_1595For the tomatoes & assembly:

8  large beefsteak-type tomatoes

~ Step 1.  Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato then cut each tomato into 3, 1/2"-thick slices. Place 12 slices in the bottom of a casserole that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.

IMG_1602 IMG_1606~ Step 2. Vigorously shake the vinaigrette and drizzle 4-6 tablespoons evenly over the tomatoes, just enough to form a very thin puddle in the bottom of the caserole dish.  Hesitant about adding vinaigrette to a tomato and rice casserole?  Trust me, it is luscious... a perfect flavor boost!


IMG_1609~ Step 3. Spoon and spread the rice mixture evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Do not pack the rice mixture down. Keep it light and fluffy.

~ Step 4.  Arrange the remaining 12 slices of tomatoes over the top of the rice and drizzle them with 4-6 more tablespoons of vinaigrette.

IMG_1631 IMG_1627~ Step 5. Evenly distribute 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs over all.  Use your fingertips to spread the panko around in such a manner that the rice, as well as the tomatoes, is covered with breadcrumbs.

~ Step 6.  Bake on center rack of 350 degree oven 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Remove from oven and set aside to rest, about 15-30 minutes, to allow juices to redistribute, prior to serving warm (with additional vinaigrette to drizzle on top of each serving) at tableside: 

IMG_1675Baked Tomato, Jasmine Rice & Panko Casserole (My Secret Ingredient? White Balsamic Vinaigrette!):  Recipe yields 12 hearty side-servings and 2 total cups of vinaigrette.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top; electric rice steamer; large spoon; cutting board; chef's knife; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole dish 

6a0120a8551282970b016304f9d4bd970d-800wiCook's Note:  To learn my method for baking haddock, check out my recipe for ~ Baked Haddock w/Nicoise Sauce & Saffron Rice + (Tips & Techniques for Handling Frozen Fish Fillets) ~ in Categories 3, 14, 15, 19, or 20.  Don't turn your nose up at my frozen haddock! 

Happy first day of Fall to you all!!!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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Marilyn! Once again, you have made my day. And... to this day, I am grateful that we are back in touch with each other. That my friend, is the wonderful story! ~ Mel.

Mel, you not going to believe me, but I was looking for a good side dish for my end of year tomatoes! And whalaa, you posted one....
I will have to try it another day.For tonight's dinner, I grilled a nice pork loin roast, with a butternut squash risotto, and made a simple salad with your white balsamic vinagrette dressing. Delish! My husband said," Who is this Mel anyway?" I said, it's a long wonderful story, and so is she!

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