After a summer chocked full of different kinds of gazpacho, I needed a change of pace. The multi-colored and multi-variety tomatoes I found at the market were still amazing and ripe, but the weather was becoming colder and I wanted something warm and inviting, instead of cool and refreshing. I came across a recipe on Food52 that sounded perfect. It was described by one tester as being like a hot panzanella, and I knew then that it was exactly what I needed.
Despite being very simple, the recipe wasn’t quite as quick to put together as I would have liked. I’m not saying that I regretted it, because I certainly didn’t. The tomatoes were just cooked, soft and warm and fragrant. The addition of bread cubes brought a bit of substance and the melted cheese on top? Absolute perfection. I would definitely make this one again, and most certainly will the next time I find myself with way too many tomatoes on hand.
Tomato, shallot and bell pepper gratin
Recipe adapted from Food52/Sarah Leah Chase’s scalloped tomatoes
2 T olive oil
A small handful of lemon verbena leaves
A small handful of basil leaves
1 shallot, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 lbs of good, ripe tomatoes (I used heirloom, kumato, yellow and others)
1 T sugar
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 C comté or the cheese of your choosing
1/4 C gruyère
2 C good crusty bread (I used sourdough)
2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 350°. Begin by sautéeing your bread cubes in the olive oil with one clove of garlic and a bit of salt and pepper until they are toasted and fragrant. Add the shallot, bell pepper and tomatoes next, along with the sugar and the rest of the garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for about five minutes, until the tomatoes are just softened. Adjust the seasoning and add the basil and lemon verbena.
Place the tomato mixture in a shallow baking dish and cover with the grated cheeses. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and the mixture is bubbling. Serve immediately or let it cool and serve luke-warm.