Friday, October 9, 2009

Tomato and Baguette Casserole

Remember that .99c French baguette I bought from Whole Foods a couple of days ago?

I have some leftover and its turned rock hard, which baguettes do if not eaten the day they're baked.

Yesterday I spritzed a chunk with water, heated it in the oven, and then ate it smothered in butter with my rustic lunchtime soup.

The spritzing softens the hardened crust in fact, depending on the amount of water you use, once heated in the oven it will soften up and be almost doughy.

Today, I'm making the most of that last chunk of baguette. I'm using it in a dish I learned about from a friend's mum. If you have a surplus of harvested tomatoes at home, the following casserole is a tasty, economical way to use up tomatoes and stale bread.

Tomato and Baguette Casserole
1) Boil a large pot of water. Turn heat down so water is gently simmering.
2) Remove green stems from tomatoes and score the other end with a small "X".
3) Gently place tomatoes into pot of simmering water with a ladle. The skin will peel away where the tomato was scored. As this happens, remove tomatoes and put them into a colander, running colander under cold water to stop cooking process.
4) You don't want the tomatoes to fall apart in the hot water, so do remove them before they start to disintegrate into mush.
5) Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin away, placing tomatoes onto a chopping board. Quarter the tomatoes and remove seeds and membranes, chopping the remaining flesh into small chunks.
6) Put chopped tomato into a pot on the stove and simmer on low. The liquid in the tomato flesh will gradually evaporate leaving a thickened tomato concasse.
7) To enhance the flavor, add a little white or brown sugar, and a slurp of balsamic vinegar to taste.
8) You could add sauteed onions and garlic, and or your choice of fresh herbs if you wish.

Now slice stale baguette and toss it in a skillet (or casserole dish), drizzling it liberally with olive oil. Or you may prefer to saute several rashers of bacon and toss the bread in with the bacon and bacon fat.
10) Ladle tomato sauce over bread, covering it generously with sauce.
11) If you chose not to use bacon in step 9, and if you like bacon, lay several rashers over the top of the casserole.
12) Bake in 350-degree oven until bacon is cooked and the dish is hot all the way through -- about 30 mins.

To Serve: Scoop portions of casserole into a bowl or onto a plate, making sure you've scooped some bread from the bottom of the casserole. Toss a little crumbled feta over the top, or your choice of grated cheese.

Scrambled eggs on the side are an option or sausage if you prefer. Or you may enjoy a simple, green side salad as an accompaniment.

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