Cooking with Karel Anne: Croque Monsieur Tomate

This delicious and healthy French version of a grilled cheese sandwich thrives on those summer tomatoes out of your garden.

Croque Monsieur Tomate

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds ripe tomatoes -- peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic -- minced or pressed
2 tablespoons basil -- chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup gruyere cheese -- shredded (or Monterrey Jack)
12 slices bread -- whole wheat or white
2 teaspoons oil
1 egg -- fried, optional

1. Boil water in a deep 2 quart pan. With a small paring knife, cut an X on the bottom of each tomato, and submerge each in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds. This will make them peel easily. Rough chop tomatoes, (with a knife or few pulses from a food processor) and put in a strainer. Reserve juice. Add salt and allow to drain for 20-30 minutes.

2. Place tomato mixture into a glass bowl and add minced garlic. Stir in the breadcrumbs to absorb any remaining liquid. Chiffonade the basil, and add to the mixture.

3. Arrange the bread slices to prepare sandwiches. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of cheese on each bottom slice of bread. Spread about two tablespoons of the tomato mixture on top, Add one more tablespoon of cheese, and top with remaining bread.

4. Drizzle oil onto a heated griddle. Place a few sandwiches on the griddle as will fit without crowding. Over medium heat, brown both sides and allow the interior cheese to melt. Sprinkle a few strands of cheese over the sandwich just before removal from the griddle. Cut diagonally into four pieces and place on a plate.

4A. For a Croque Madame, place a warm fried egg on top of the sandwich after the first side browns. Sprinkle with a few strands of cheese over the sandwich and allow to melt while the second side browns. Remove from the griddle, and place whole sandwich on the plate.
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Per Serving : 267 Calories; 9g Fat (30.8% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 51mg Cholesterol; 556mg Sodium. [Nutrition info includes optional egg]

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