Nothing says summer to me like luscious, ripe tomatoes strewn all over my kitchen counter. There they sit piled high in bowls, waiting to be devoured. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways- doused with olive oil and basil atop grilled country bread and for frittata di pane-a savory french toast, mixed with cucumbers, bread and onion for panzanella, stuffed with rice and baked, little cherries sauteed with herbs and tossed with pasta, and don’t let me forget the classic caprese.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. There are endless ways to enjoy the crown jewel of summer. Here’s a recipe I found in Food 52 and knew would be the perfect side dish to grilled meat or fish. What’s not to like about bread, basil, parmesan and really ripe tomatoes? The first bite actually reminded me a bit of lasagna.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (1/2-inch diced) French bread, preferably a crusty baguette
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice, about 2 1/2 pounds-use the best tomatoes you can find
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
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 the 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. Add the tomatoes, garlic to then pan and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the basil and remove from the heat. 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.