Yes, I know I described the tomato casserole last night as “Tomato Gratin”, but after finishing it off for lunch this afternoon, I decided to call it “Tomato Pudding”. With the croutons baked inside, soaking up all that lovely tomato juice, the casserole is more like a savory bread pudding. In fact, it really is just a baked Panzanella. No matter the title, if you put ripe tomatoes together with basil and cheese, you know it is going to be good.
Every food blogger is baking tomatoes this week. Most are baking Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) Scalloped Tomatoes, and my recipe doesn’t stray much from her theme. The only difference is The Contessa (I can relate to a Contessa since I am a Goddess) calls for sugar (?) and her recipe requires making croutons from a loaf of French bread.
I was prepared to do this, until I noticed this package in my kitchen:
Hmmm. I’m not very smart a rocket scientist, but I couldn’t see ruining a perfectly good loaf of French bread to make croutons when I had a whole mess of croutons sitting right on the kitchen counter.
Thus, my RV-friendly version of a baked tomato casserole, aka Tomato Pudding:
Heat oven to 350°. Chop tomatoes.
Add minced garlic, freshly-cracked black pepper, kosher salt (just a little bit – my croutons were already salted, parmesan cheese is salty… so maybe just a half-teaspoon – easily omitted) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Toss in fresh basil.
Add the croutons.
And finally, grated parmesan cheese.
Stir it all together and place in an oiled casserole.
Sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese over all and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Summer is served!
My final comment is this (and it is the same thing I always say) – use the ripest tomatoes, the best-quality olive oil you can find and grate your own parmesan cheese. And don’t even think about substituting dried basil or I will curl up in a ball and cry.
8 roma tomatoes (about two pounds), cut into half-inch cubes
3 cloves minced garlic
kosher salt (if necessary)
black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for oiling the baking dish)
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 3 stems)
1½ cups premium croutons (plain, herbed or Caesar)
¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
Heat oven to 350°. Mix tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, basil, croutons and ½ cup of the parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir well. Place the tomato mixture in an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbling. Let rest five minutes and serve. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
Until my next update, I remain, your summery correspondent.