This Sunday’s Chronicle had an article about ‘you pick’ farms in our area, highlighting the wonderful fresh produce and excellent prices to be had by picking your own fruits and vegetables. It also included recipes from the farmers that highlight their offerings. There was a delicious looking recipe for a hot tomato and bread salad. They had me at the word tomato, but add a baguette, some basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan, and I’m in love. Happily, Monday, the weather decided to cool down enough (It was 103 (or 108 if you believe the newspaper, which I don’t) on Saturday, and 90 on Sunday….only 74 on Monday) to let me turn the oven on. Thank you, windy summer fog from the coast! So I roasted a chicken, and made this gratin to go along with it. Ina Garten’s chicken recipe calls for a 425 oven, and this recipe called for 375. I made them shake hands and behave, and set the oven at 400. The result? A moist, delicious chicken, and a super delicious bread salad that we scarfed down quite happily. Definitely a keeper. One word of warning: The recipe says it serves 8. It barely fed 3. YUM. Photo courtesy of the Chronicle. I intended to take a picture of mine, but the hoards were getting restless.
This gratin, featuring summer’s burst of new-crop cherry tomatoes, tastes of the season. It’s adapted from Jan Smith at Smith Family Farm in Brentwood*. You can adjust this to your own tastes, adding a little bit of extra garlic or cheese, if desired. Serve this with any grilled or roasted meat. This would go especially well with chicken.
Cherry Tomato & Bread Gratin
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil + more for greasing the baking dish
- 5 to 6 cups 1-inch cubed French baguette with crust
- 4 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) ripe small cherry tomatoes (various colors if possible)
- 2 to 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + more, if desired
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Place the rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375. Oil a 2 1/2- to 3-quart gratin dish.
In a large bowl**, combine the bread cubes, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil and cheese; add salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the bread cubes are brown and crisp and the tomatoes tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
* For those of you who don’t know, and maybe care, there are at least 2 Brentwoods in California. One is a section of Los Angeles/Beverly Hills, where OJ and his ex-wife may or may not have had an ugly run in. The other is about an hour east of San Francisco, and is known for their corn…though if you click here, you’ll wonder why. It’s usually very sweet, good corn, though my father-in-law says nothing beats the corn in Wisconsin that’s so fresh you bring it in from the fields and cook it right then.
** my biggest metal bowl wasn’t big enough, so I used a nice wooden salad bowl, which was.