Post by Alison Hein.
If you’re a fan of the grilled cheese sandwich / tomato soup combo, you will love this old-fashioned treat straight out of the annals of Grandma’s recipe book. As children, my sister and I were amazed by the first bite of shockingly sweet pudding-like tomato bread, followed by the verge to savory with a finish of glorious melted cheese. Our grandma would make us each an individual dish, which we would gobble down for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between.
Merriam-Webster has this to say about the transitive verb “scallop”:
[from the use of a scallop shell as a baking dish] : to bake in a sauce usually covered with seasoned bread or cracker crumbs <scalloped potatoes>
I like to make my own croutons for this recipe. Make extra for salads or stuffing. Drop the herbs and garlic for a more puddingly sweet version, or skip the sugar for an old-fashioned breakfast in bed even Grandma would approve.
2 thick slices of stale crusty bread (about 1 cup)
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried parsley
2 large tomatoes (about 1½ – 2 cups, or 1 14.4-ounce can diced or stewed tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup grated mozzarella (or other) cheese
Fresh chives, for garnish
To make croutons, preheat oven to 350°. Cut bread into ½-inch cubes. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir in basil, oregano and parsley. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake until crisped, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Spray 2 small ramekins or baking dishes and set aside.
Fill a heavy pot with enough water to cover tomatoes and bring to a boil. Blanch tomatoes for less than one minute. Remove tomatoes from water, cool, and peel off skins. Chop tomatoes into small cubes, and allow to drain, reserving tomato juice.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook until lightly bubbling, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, adding reserved tomato juice if sauce becomes too thick. Remove from heat.
Toss croutons into tomato mixture, stir in cheese, then scoop into prepared ramekins. Bake in the oven until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives and serve hot.
Makes 2 servings.