Italian Bread and Tomato Bake|
This dish is a favorite for potlucks, picnics, buffets, and other parties. It also makes a simple and easy side dish on busy weeknights and I frequently serve it alongside roast chicken or pork and lots of other Italian or French inspired entrees. If your entree uses specific herbs that you want to include in this dish, feel free to do so as it is very easily customized as so many herbs go well with tomatoes. Some mixtures we like to use are marjoram, herbes de Provence, summer savory, fresh thyme, saffron, cumin and oregano, or even curry powder. Canned tomatoes can be used if fresh tomatoes are not in season, and we especially like using fire roasted tomatoes that we coarsely chop before adding to the casserole along with about half of the juice from the can.
1/2 loaf Italian bread (about 1/2 pound)
10 large plum tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
4 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Slice the tomatoes thickly, collecting and reserving any juice. Toss the tomatoes with the bread. Combine the tomato juices, olive oil, butter, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the Parmesan cheese to the tomato juice in a small bowl. Pour over the tomato and bread mixture and toss well to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and piping hot.
Makes 8 servings.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes