There is something amazing about combining bread and tomatoes. Pizza, bread salad, gazpacho, grilled cheese & tomatoes, the list goes on and on. And, in summer when tomatoes are in season, nothing is easier or more delicious. So a few years ago when I saw this recipe from Ina Garten I knew it would become one of my favorites.
Homemade croutons are tossed in a mixture of chopped in-season tomatoes, garlic, and herbs then piled into a baking dish, topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano and baked. The tomatoes sort of collapse into the croutons, the cheese browns, and melts and the result is a delicious casserole perfect as a side dish with grilled chicken, fish or steak. I love to pair with a big salad and serve as a light summer supper.
|tonight we had the tomato casserole with a big salad and roasted salmon|
Throughout the years, I have tweaked Ina's recipe a bit. I am posting her exact recipe with my tweaks highlighted in red. I like the addition of sweet onion and thyme leaves. I also add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Feel free to leave this out if spicy is not your thing. My biggest change is drying out the croutons in the oven. For me, Ina's recipe produces wet, soggy bread...and I am not a fan. My tweak, plus reducing the time the ingredients are sauteed, results in crispy croutons in the finished dish. Try the recipe both ways...and go with the one you like best. Both are delicious!
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Good olive oil
2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed (I do not remove the crusts)
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup chopped spring onions (or sweet Walla Walla onions)
2 tablespoons sugar (I do not use sugar if the tomatoes are super sweet. If not I use 1 tablespoon coconut sugar. The white sugar makes this dish too sweet for me)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I cut this to 1/2 cup cheese)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned. Place the croutons on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the croutons are very dry..Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, coconut sugar (if needed), salt, pepper and red pepper flakes) in the used skillet. Add the croutons to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned, and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.
2009, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
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