scalloped tomatoes with croutons

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Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons
Adapted, only slightly, from Ina Garten

Although it will feel blasphemous to add heat to that which is perfect just as it arrived, summer tomatoes, this doesn’t cook them to death, more like wilts them slightly. They’re still juicy (juicier, actually because the heat released all of their awesomeness) and rather than losing that sweet puddle, the bread cubes sop it up and you don’t miss a thing. The sugar seems odd, I know, but I trust The Ina, I trusted that she’s never led me astray and sure enough, it works in here. It just rounds out the whole dish. It just… I’m sorry, I can’t talk. I have to go get thirds.

3 tablespoons olive oil (reduced from original)
2 cups bread from a French boule, in a 1/2-inch dice, crusts removed (I went closer to 3 cups, after buying a loaf of very puffy Italian bread by accident)
2 1/2 pounds plum whatever good tomatoes you’ve got, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (read this)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir so that they are evenly coated with oil. Cook cubes, tossing frequently, until toasty on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm with a big green salad, a bean salad and/or a poached egg.


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