Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tomato Crouton Casserole

Tomato season is coming to a close, so it's time to make the most of those last beauties.  The weather is getting a bit colder, so it's nice to have a warm, comforting dish that utilizes those last fresh tomatoes.  This tomato crouton "casserole" can work as a fancy side dish or a main dish with a nice salad.  I actually just ate the whole pan by myself since John was out of town.  That was a bit of overkill, but hey, your opportunities are endless.

I used sweet purple cherry tomatoes, though you can use really any kind of fresh tomato you have on hand.  I'm a big fan of the smaller tomatoes, though the larger ones would hold up a bit better when cooking.   

This dish has three stars - tomatoes, bread, and parmesan.  A nice thick round of French bread works great for this recipe.  You cut off the crust and then snack on it while making the rest of the dish.  Or instead you can save it because the recipe you make the next day requires bread crumbs and you have run out.

Carbs + Tomatoes + Cheese = Win.  There's a reason this combination has lasted for years.  

The key to this dish is to keep the croutons as croutons and not as soggy bread.  To do this, I upped my bread content in the dish, cooked the croutons until they were pretty crispy, and used a larger baking dish so the casserole was spread relatively thinly across the dish.  And if you get those croutons to stay crisp, you might just be eating the whole pan yourself too!

Tomato Crouton Casserole
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, crusts removed
2 pounds tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch dice (or just cut your cherry tomatoes in half)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup basil cut in thin slices
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a very large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the bread cubes and toss until coated with the oil.  Cook cubes until crispy on all sides - about 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and ground pepper in a large bowl.  When the bread has turned into croutons, add in the tomato mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Remove  from the heat and stir in the slices of basil.  Pour into a medium sized baking dish and top with the grated parmesan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top browns.

1 comment:

  1. How can something so easy look SO delicious? Your 4PM craving for carbs must've still hung around if you ate the whole wonderful pan!


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