Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scalloped Tomatoes

With all this holiday baking — oh and just a little holiday eating — I'm beginning to feel just a tad blimp-like. So with that in mind, I thought it was time, Rachel, for me to feature something that didn't include sugar.

I am a huge tomato fan and it is one of life's inadequacies that I live in a place where fresh, lusciously ripe tomatoes are only available two months out of 12. I long for them the rest of the year, but there is no point of even pretending that the stuff in the produce section that's red and roundish is even vaguely related to a real tomato.

That said, this terrific recipe from the Barefoot Contessa's new cookbook, How Easy is That?, is a wonderful way to serve tomatoes as a side dish in those off months. Plus, you can make it ahead and serve it for a crowd, which is what I did when we had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. Hope you all like it!

Scalloped Tomatoes
serves a crowd

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced bread (1/2 inch pieces) from a round rustic bread
3 pounds plum tomatoes, diced (about 14-16 tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basicl leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stire to coat with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring ovten, until the cubes are evenly browned.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread cubes and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6-8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

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