Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tomato Gratin

I'd like to take credit for this awesome dish, but I really feel like I need to give credit where it's due - Ina Garten's Scalloped Tomatoes.  I went through and added what I wanted, subtracted what I didn't want and my methods were a little different.  But I still wouldn't feel right if I didn't give Ina credit, as her recipe is great.  Ours is just better.  (Sorry, Ina!  We love you!) Justin was baking us a loaf of boule the other day, but whether it was due to temperatures or humidity, it just didn't rise as much as he'd hoped, so it came out a little dense.  I'd remembered seeing Ina make her Scalloped Tomatoes recipe and thought our dense bread would be perfect for this... and it was! 

I wondered why this dish was called "scalloped"; it was my understanding that meant a dish was made with a cream sauce.  So I did a little researching on the magic interweb and it seems there are a few different definitions of what "scalloped" means in the culinary world.  While I didn't find a solid answer, I did find this article that summed up the variances nicely.  Still, I didn't know if I really wanted to call this recipe Scalloped Tomatoes - I didn't know if it would really explain what the dish was to someone browsing recipe names.  Now, the same website that broke down "scalloped" has this to say about "au gratin":  "Au Gratin means garnished with crumbs (usually bread) and grated cheese, then baked or grilled (aka broiled.)"  I think this definition fits the bill for my recipe more.  Now, because I don't speak french, I don't know if it's grammatically correct to call the dish a "tomato gratin" or "tomatoes au gratin" and I couldn't find an answer on that.

I'm not sure how we've done all these recipes and not used a Black Flag song yet.  What the hell is going on?!  Rectified now... Black Flag (with a long-haired Rollins) doing "Nervous Breakdown".  -jen

Prep/Cook Time:  25 minutes
Bake Time:  35 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Serves:  6-8
  • 2.5 pounds (10-12) fresh Roma tomatoes, diced (1/2") 
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • olive oil
  • 2.5 cups cubed artisan bread (1/2")
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup rough-chopped green or kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic (5-6 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped or julienned, packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a shallow 2-quart baking dish (8"x8") with non-stick cooking spray.

Place diced tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl.  Toss with salt and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat.  Add the bread cubes and toss in the olive oil to coat.  Let cubes toast into croutons, stirring often, until dark golden-brown and crispy, 5-8 minutes.  Add drained tomatoes, sugar, black pepper, olives, onion and garlic.  Cook an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Transfer mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle Parmesan over the top, and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the Parmesan.  Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes.  Serve hot.

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