Scalloped Tomatoes

This is a true summer recipe, when the flavor-bursting tomatoes are in great abundance at the farmers market. I have adapted it from a recipe on the Smitten Kitchen website, which is worth a look if you can get past the way-too-many photos and the overly cutesy text.

You do not want second-class toms for this, the recipe depends on the excellence of the ingredients. This includes the Parmesan cheese. May the lord have mercy on you if you use the pre-grated sawdust in the cylindrical containers! Buy the real stuff from Italy, Parmesiano Reggiano, it tastes so good.

  • 3 TB of good olive oil
  • 3 c of bread cubes, about 1/2 inch on a side, from a  loaf of hearty white bread (such as a french boule), crusts removed. Please don’t give me this whole wheat nonsense, whole wheat it has its place but not here.
  • 3 c of your best most lovely and flavorful tomatoes in 1/2 inch dice.
  • 3 large or 4 small garlic cloves, minced finely.
  • 1 TB sugar.
  • 2 tsp salt.
  • About 10 grindings of black pepper. Maybe 12.
  • 1/2 c thinly slivered basil leaves, Thai basil is good as well as the “regular” basil.
  • 1-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oven to 350 f.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the bread cubes and toss until toasted, lightly browned, and crisp—perhaps 5 minutes. While the bread is toasting, toss the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. When the bread cubes are ready, reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato mixture. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes then stir in the basil. Pour into an oiled baking pan that will hold the mixture in a 1-1/2 to 2 inch layer. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and bake for about 30 minutes or until the ingredients are bubbling and lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature—the leftovers make a great omelet filling.

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