Friday, April 15, 2011

Scalloped Tomatoes

One of my favorite signs that winter is over is that tomatoes start to look good and taste homegrown. There's nothing better than cutting into a tomato and it actually has red flesh and tastes great on its own. Somehow, in a jumble of trips to the grocery store, I realized there was a surplus of tomatoes in the house. I looked around for a tomato based recipe for a while, but kept coming back to this one. The ingredients are pretty simple and didn't require yet another adventure to the market (you have to realize that I'm incapable of buying only things on my shopping lists. Impulsive food shopping is my weakness).

Even though this recipe calls for bread for a French boule, I used challah and it was still delicious. I'm guessing almost any French bread would do, but because I used challah (which has a soft crust) I didn't remove the crust. The flavor in this recipe is similar to a warm bruschetta, so you really don't want to slack off and use unripe or canned tomatoes. This recipe is really summer friendly, even though it's baked, and would be an awesome side dish for most meals.

Recipe from Ina Garten
Serves 6 to 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 35 to 40 minutes

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 3 and 2 tablespoons
2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from French bread with crusts removed (or challah with crusts on)
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large 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 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

While toasting bread cubes, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) ovenproof 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.

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