Saturday, August 9, 2008

Roasted tomatoes star in bread pudding

As we marvel at the skills of the Olympic athletes this week, we also make note of a different competition. That is, which will take the prize in the garden for sheer volume of produce? The ever-prolific zucchini? Or the crop of tomatoes, which are, of course, again managing their annual accomplishment of ripening all at once, so you can’t pick them fast enough or use them up before they turn to a mushier state than you desire.

So thank goodness for good friends such as Jean Donnelly of Carlisle, MA, who sent a recipe from the July 2008 issue of Gourmet. Simply called “Tomato Bread Pudding,” this dish is anything but simple, as it features roasted Roma tomato halves, garlic, and two fragrant cheeses, an Italian Fontina, and some Parmigiano-Regianno.

The author of the Gourmet article, Paul Grimes, stated that this “homey dish made everyone in the test kitchen swoon.” In addition to serving it as a side dish, he suggests the possibility of making it a vegetarian main dish along with a green salad.

Now, even though we don’t have plum tomatoes among our own tomato crop, we’re going to use our garden variety to try this one. We have the tomatoes lined up on the counter, all ready to go.


3 pounds plum tomatoes such as Roma, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 head garlic, left whole
10 cups cubed (1-inch) country-style Italian bread (1 pound)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
2 cups coarsely grated chilled Italian Fontina (9 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter 3-quart shallow baking dish (about 13 by 9 inches). Toss tomatoes in bowl with herbes de Provence, 1 tablespoon oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan.
Cut off and discard 1/4 inch from top of garlic head to expose cloves, then put on a sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in pan with tomatoes until tomatoes are browned but still juicy and garlic is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Cool garlic to warm, then force through a medium-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula, discarding skins. Reserve purée.
While garlic cooks, toss bread cubes in large bowl with remaining oil until coated, then spread out in large 4-sided sheet pan and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic purée, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in cheeses. Transfer bread to baking dish, then pour egg mixture over bread and add tomatoes, pushing some down between bread cubes. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown in spots, 50 to 60 minutes. Serves 8.
(Recipe and photo from Gourmet, July 2008.)
Cooks' note: Bread pudding is best the day it is made but can be made 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat, covered with foil, in a 350°F oven.


Joy Louise said...

Hi Portia,
I have found a way to honor your great site! I am nominating you for the 'Brillante Weblog Premio'! Here's what you need to do:
1. The award may be displayed on a winner's blog.
2. Add a link to the person you received the award from.
3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.
4. Add their links to your blog.
5. Add a message to each person that you have passed the award on in the comments section of their blog.
Have Fun!

Joy aka Zebee, or is it the other way around?

Portia Little said...

Thanks Joy!
Or is it Zeebee?
Hope he likes bread pudding!!