Monday, September 13, 2010

Ina's Scalloped Tomatoes



Tomatoes. These lycopene-rich fruits are global gems. They originated in South America and spread across the globe through Spanish colonization (from Mexico, to the Caribbean, over to the Philippines and Southeast Asia). The Spaniards brought tomatoes back to Europe and they were easily cultivated across the Mediterranean basin. These juicy red fruits even made it over to jolly/rainy old England and then the British introduced it to their territories in the Middle-East. That's probably why you see tomatoes featured in almost every cuisine around the globe: gazpacho, pan con tomate (Catalan), Mexican salsa, Italian sauces and pizzas, stewed in Chinese cooking and used as a base in some Indian dishes. Versatile and ubiquitous...that's the tomato. 
We had a bit of a blight in our CSA share last summer, but this summer we have gotten the juiciest tomatoes I have ever eaten.  We got beefsteak, cherry, heirloom, green zebra, plum, grape and golden tomatoes in our share so far.
My husband likes to bite into tomatoes as if they were apples. I love them in sauces, preferably pureed, and mixed with other ingredients-- in this case, bread.
This recipe for Scalloped Tomatoes is fantastic. It pops with flavor and color. I have made this dish twice and my only caveat is that you should make it on the day you want to serve and eat it.  Subjecting the delicate boule bread to a cycle of refrigeration and re-heating makes it a little mushy. Also, the Parmesan crust on top of the dish doesn't reheat well. So, make this dish a few hours before you want to consume it and all your guests will rave about how delicious it is! 
SCALLOPED TOMATOES (Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed (Remove the crust from the entire loaf before you start slicing) 
  • 2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (I've made this dish twice, and I've used Beefsteak and Plum-- both work)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.
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2 comments:

  1. I was lucky enough to taste this dish, and even with a +1 day reheat, it was still completely delicious! You and Ina Garten can both do no wrong in the kitchen. Love the blog!

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  2. Growing up I despised tomatoes. My older sister would bite into one, sprinkle salt on it, bite, sprinkle and lick her lips when it was all eaten. Nearly made me puke‼ My taste buds are more sophisticated now and I can eat them which is why I am drooling into my keyboard while reading that. So eager to try it!

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