Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It's finally, officially summer. There are grills on everybody's decks. There are inflatable pools going up in a lot of backyards. There are flowers wilting in my yard - because holy crap is it hot outside. Every year I say "If it's this hot in June what is July going to be like?" And every year I think "It shouldn't be this hot so early!" And every year I argue with my conscience about turning the A/C down just one more notch. You've probably noticed a trend by now: I keeping saying "every year." Why is it that I can't remember from one year to the next that I live in the South where it's hot every year, all summer, and most of spring. Growing up here you'd think I'd know by now.
I guess it's the heat frying my brain cells. Because if you haven't caught on by now - it's hot here.
But there are good things about the heat, too. Popsicles and homemade ice cream. Trips to the beach. Fourth of July picnics. A sweet little boy's first birthday. My birthday. (Wait, is that a good thing?) Summer reading lists. Big, fat slices of cold, red watermelon. Longer days and more time outside in the evening. Fireflies. Summer storms. And one of the best things? Tomatoes! Summer is the best time of year for tomatoes. And that time is almost here, friends.
But here's the rub. I don't really like raw tomatoes. I know! I'm grossed out by tomato sandwiches - not even adding vinegary cucumber slices will seal the deal for me. Chunks of tomato in my salad? Looks gorgeous and all, but please take it away before I gag. And that whole Southern thing of a fresh slice of tomato on my breakfast plate? Please, please don't go there. Just let me enjoy my bacon and eggs in peace.
But wait. Don't turn away from me yet. There are so many other ways to enjoy those gorgeous tomatoes out of the garden. Roast them! Sauce 'em up! Put 'em on pizza! If you do one of those things be sure to give me a call. I'm your girl, then. And even better? Serve 'em scalloped, like this. Surprise everyone with a fantastic, crisp, buttery, sweet and tangy dish. We like them with chicken, but feel free to serve them alongside anything you enjoy at your house. Even picky eaters will give this a go.
Ah, summer. It's so nice to see you again.
Adapted from The Great American Cookbook
1 pound juicy, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I prefer grape or cherry tomatoes, halved)
3.5 ounces fresh bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (A white bread tastes best in my opinion)
4 scallions, finely chopped (I often leave this out, unless I have them)
1 T. tomato paste (optional - and I've never used it)
4 T. butter, diced (I use unsalted because it's the only kind I buy)
1/2 C. brown sugar (I have used Splenda brown sugar and it worked great)
Snipped chives or fresh parsley to garnish (I never do this)
1. Preheat oven to 400*. Put tomatoes, bread cubes and scallions in greased baking dish and gently toss together. If the tomatoes are not bright red, stir in the tomato paste.
2. Scatter the diced butter over the surface and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Give the tomatoes a good stir then bake another 15 minutes.
3. Increase the temperature to 425*. Give the tomatoes a final stir and bake another 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the bread cubes are caramelized. Sprinkle with chives and serve hot.
Other recipes you may enjoy: Roasted Tomato Pizzas, Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes, Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Roasted Tomato Pasta, Canning Tomato Sauce, Mark Bittman's Tomato-Onion Salsa