The weather turned cooler here last week, and the tomato plants are slowing down their production, but there is still a good-size basket of tomatoes to be gathered every few days. This delightful side dish seemed like a good use for not only the tomatoes, but also the basil (because I’ve been very lazy in my pesto-making this summer, and there is quite an abundance of it growing wild in the vegetable patch).
This dish pleased everybody at the table. The Sweet Pea is a professed tomato lover. I have the most adorable photo of her when she was only a week old, lying on the couch surrounded by all the tomatoes I’d picked that morning. It was like a prophecy for the girl she was going to become. Naturally, she was very pleased by the gratin and ate nearly half of it herself. But even the Sweetie Pie, who has nothing against vegetables as long as they’re mixed in with tastier bits of food, proclaimed that this was delicious. Maybe it was the basil and the breadcrumbs that sold him.
In any case, this simple little dish will definitely be repeated in our house. I had the foresight to make a large batch of the breadcrumbs and the basil oil, so that the next time it will come together in a jiffy. The basil oil keeps well in the fridge, just be sure to keep the basil covered with the oil.
The forecast for next week looks even more fall-ish. I plan to bake up at least a few more tomato gratins before the summer harvest is done.
Source: The Art of Real Food by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
Course: Side Dishes (Veg)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 Tbs basil leaves chiffonade
- 1/2 loaf artisan bread crust removed, bread diced into 1″ pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 large tomatoes sliced 1/2″ thick
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Puree 1/2 cup olive oil and basil leaves. Set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse bread to make large breadcrumbs. Toss with remaining olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toast on a sheet tray until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- In a round baking dish, arrange 1 layer of sliced tomatoes, season lightly with salt and pepper, and repeat until all tomatoes are used. Top with breadcrumbs, and bake 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with basil oil.