…and went to heaven, and do I ever have a surprise for you: heaven is made up of Tomato Bread Pudding. And here all along you had thought it was made up of gold—ha! Three simple things, tomatoes, bread, and pudding, but when done the right way (with a few more ingredients)—um-um-um, glorious!
I read this recipe in Gourmet magazine, the same one that had the fried lemons and parsley dish. Wait! Do not go away! This recipe redeems that other recipe, and then some.
This dish takes a lot of oven time, so make it in the cool of the morning. It reheats well (at least I imagine it would, but I can’t honestly say I know that for sure since I haven’t tried reheating it yet), so bake it up in the morning, and then heat it up for dinner. I ate this for lunch today, and I plan to eat it for supper tonight, breakfast tomorrow, lunch tomorrow… you get the general idea.
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, the little top cut off and then the tomatoes halved lengthwise
1 ½ teaspoons herbes de Provence (I made my own mixture a while back—I don’t know the proportions right off the bat, but it consists of marjoram, sage, basil, thyme, fennel, and rosemary)
some good olive oil, about a half cup
1 head of garlic
1 loaf of crusty, white bread (about one pound)
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 9 ounces)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper
Put the halved tomatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, add the herbes de Provence, 3/4 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and toss well. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a large sheet pan, one with sides.
Place the scalped head of garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle the garlic with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, wrap the foil up tight around the garlic, and place the metallic ball on the sheet with the tomatoes.
Bake the tomatoes and garlic in a 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. The tomatoes will be brown and very slightly blackened, but still have a good deal of juice. The garlic will be soft. The house will smell divine. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for a little while.
Put the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with 1/3 cup olive oil. Spread the cubes on another large cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until toasty brown.
The recipe said to push it through a sieve, but that didn’t go so hotsy-totsy for me, and besides, I don’t see any real point to it. So just mush up the garlic real well with your fingertips, checking to see if there are any hard lumps or fibers; if so, pick them out.
Now, grease a 9×13 glass pan and put the toasted bread cubes in it. Pour the cream mixture over top of the bread. Place the roasted tomatoes on the top, pressing them down in a little. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until it’s firm and nicely browned. Allow to cool for a little bit before eating. Or not.
Alright. I’m done now. I won’t delay you any longer. Go out to the kitchen and cook up a pan of heaven on earth. Feel free to belt out some hymns while you chop and roast and whisk your way to a higher, better place.
Another thought: What would this be like if I added some browned sausage to the pudding mixture? What about a couple of caramelized onions? Oo-oo-ooh! I’m being transported! Someone grab my feet, quick!