Special equipment: a 3-inch round cookie cutter
Garnish: very small heirloom cherry or currant tomatoes
Cut 1 round from each bread slice with cookie cutter. Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off bacon fat from skillet and reserve fat (do not clean skillet). Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast 3 bread rounds, turning over once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer toasts to a rack to cool and season with salt and pepper. Toast remaining 3 bread rounds in 1 1/2 tablespoons more oil in same manner.
Cook shallot in 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute. Season dressing with salt and pepper and keep warm, covered. Crumble bacon.
Arrange bread rounds on 6 plates and divide tomato slices among them, stacking slices and sprinkling some basil and bacon between slices. Sprinkle cheese and remaining basil and bacon over and around tomatoes. Spoon some of warm bacon dressing over and around tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Toasts can be made 3 hours ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Dressing can be made 1 hour ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before proceeding. Tomatoes can be sliced 1 hour ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
Copyright July 2003, Gourmet magazine. Printed with permission.
Andrea Reusing is the creator of the restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the book Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. In this installment of The Key 3, she shares with Lynne Rossetto Kasper the techniques behind three of her favorite recipes: Turnip Soup, Overnight Braised Short Ribs and Tomato Salad.