Saturday, July 24, 2010

God Bless Seasonal Food: Scalloped Tomatoes

Three beautiful varieties of tomatoes looking tasty

I took the kids out the morning to a farmer's market we had never been to before, the Towson Farmer's Market on Allegheny. It wasn't as large as our usual market, but it was good. We were more than happy to be there. I bought amazingly sweet blueberries and the white fleshed nectarines may have been the finest I've ever had. I also bought an apple for myself and one for each of the kids for our ride home: ginger golds, the first apples of the season. They tasted sweet and tangy with a musky flavor that comes from any farm fresh apple. My son asked, "why are these apples SO good?" The answer: there is nothing better than seasonal food. Period. It is flavor you can't bottle up or recreate through any other means. The summer is in its prime, my friends. If you don't have a testimony of the good things of the earth and the contents of your fridge make you say "meh," then it is time to shop somewhere else. 

This week I would love to have you cook this recipe and love it, but more than that I would like you to challenge yourself to try to eat in season. Go out to your farmer's market, a roadside stand or a farmers' co-op type store that sells the local, seasonal and fresh stuff. And when you feast on that you'll know what I yammering about. God bless seasonal food.

Now on to my feast this week. I didn't mention the tomatoes yet. Oh, the tomatoes. Simply divine. Anytime you can find a whole basket of gorgeous "spotted" or "seconds" of heirloom tomatoes for cheap, snag it. And if you don't see one set out- ask your farmer if they sell them; they almost always do. I got a bog one for a pittance of $3. I happily took those home with designs to scallop them into one big beautiful dish o' dinner. Stellar stuff. My husband bet the baby wouldn't eat them since she has been a stinker about dinner lately. He lost. She inhaled this.

Scalloped Tomatoes
adapted from Ina Garten

·       3 T. olive oil
·      2 cups (1/2-inch diced) good bread (increase to 3 to 4 cups if you have juicy tomatoes)
·      2 1/2 lbs of tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice or torn apart with your hands
·      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

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 (I used an oval gratin 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 alongside some crusty bread to mop up all the delicious juices with.

And if you do make it out here are some other fantastic recipes for your summer produce:
Bread Pudding With Corn (I just made this again for self-proclaimed "picky" dinner guests, who had thirds)
Red Potato Salad With Green Beans (This salad is a winner, even if you change it up a bit. I made it tonight with boiled potatoes, Italian jumbo beans [my new fav] and red onion, we loved it.)


  1. And sorry about the crazy caps earlier- I honestly don't know what happened...

  2. Melody- I used my homemade sandwich bread but a good french or italian loaf would also work. Just avoid the cheapy-sandwich stuff.


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