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TOMATO SEASON: Recipes for spicy-sweet tomato jam and cheese-stuffed tomatoes

This June 30, 2014 photo shows cheese stuffed tomatoes in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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This June 30, 2014 photo shows cheese stuffed tomatoes in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Slice 'em and salt 'em.

That's really all a seasonally delicious tomato needs. Though if you really want to gussy it up, you could add a bit of pepper, a splash of olive oil, maybe a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Just enough of each to highlight the sweetly acidic flavour of the juicy tomato flesh.

Still, summer tends to bring an abundance of tomatoes, and after a while we find ourselves hankering for something with a little more oomph. And a salad just isn't cutting it.

So we couldn't help but dream up a few other ways to play to a tomato's strengths. We started by turning them into a spicy-sweet jam that is a perfect accompaniment to cheeses and cured meats. Or try it in place of ketchup on a burger (or over any grilled meat, for that matter). It's also amazing added to a grilled cheese.

Looking for something a bit more robust? Try our recipe for cheese-stuffed tomatoes, which fills hollowed out tomatoes with a mix of breadcrumbs and Monterey Jack cheese, then bakes them until bubbling.

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SPICY-SWEET TOMATO JAM

Start to finish: 1 hour, plus cooling

Makes 3 cups

8 large tomatoes, diced

2 large yellow onions, diced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In a large saute pan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 hour, or until thick and jammy. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Nutrition information per 1/4 cup: 90 calories; 5 calories from fat (6 per cent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 18 g sugar; 1 g protein; 170 mg sodium.

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CHEESE-STUFFED TOMATOES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 3 slices bread, finely chopped in a food processor)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

4 large tomatoes

Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and coriander. Cook for 5 minutes, or just until tender. Stir in the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and cilantro.

Cut a 1/2 inch slice off the top of each tomato. Use a melon baller to scoop out the insides of the tomato, leaving the outer flesh intact. Spoon a quarter of the cheese mixture into each tomato. Arrange the filled tomatoes in the prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender and bubbly.

Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories; 110 calories from fat (52 per cent of total calories); 13 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 10 g protein; 360 mg sodium.

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