Savory Tomato Bread Pudding


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You may have noticed a lot of my posts recently center on tomatoes. So you probably remember me lamenting over the overabundance of tomatoes in my garden. Even one of my neighbors commented on the overabundance of tomatoes in my garden, which led to a conversation about whatthehelltodo with all those tomatoes. She suggested freezing them, which I may resort to when the whether becomes cooler. But right now I’m still inspired to cook. So … Bread pudding anyone?
The bread pudding from my youth (made by my grandma when she had stale bread to use) is of the dessert variety and uses stale bread, apples, cinnamon and raisins. This recipe, adapted from one found at epicurious.com, uses stale bread, fresh tomatoes, and cheese.

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ingredients.

  • 3 lbs plum tomatoes such as Roma, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 tsp. herbs (I used thyme and oregano because I had them within reaching distance)
  • extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 12 c. cubed (1-inch) artisan-style bread
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 T. tomato puree
  • 2 to 3 c. coarsely grated Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter a 4.8-quart shallow glass baking dish.3
  2. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.5
  3. Cut off and discard 1/4 inch from top of garlic head to expose cloves, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap garlic in heavy-duty foil and roast in the oven with tomatoes until tomatoes are browned but still juicy and garlic is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. 4
  4. Cool garlic to warm, then squeeze the softened cloves of garlic from their skins.
  5. While garlic cools, toss bread cubes in a large bowl with enough olive oil to coat, then spread out in a large 4-sided baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes (longer if needed). Cool in pan.
  6. While the bread is cooling, puree in your blender or food processor milk, cream, eggs, garlic, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper. (You may have to do this in batches.)
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  8. Transfer bread to baking dish, then pour egg mixture over bread. Top with fontina cheese, then add tomatoes, pushing some down between bread cubes, if desired. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown in spots, 50 to 60 minutes.6
When I went to pick tomatoes from my garden to make this dish, I came up a little short. As in, two pounds short of the three pounds needed for this recipe. Where did all my fresh tomatoes go?! Oh yeah, in my failed attempt at Garden Tomato Bread. (All I’m going to say about this bread is that when active yeast becomes inactive it yields two very dense loaves of bread after days of painstaking attempts to get the dough to rise.)
So I had two medium-sized loaves of inedible very dense bread to use up and (what I thought was) a bunch of fresh tomatoes from my garden. I was excited to try this savory bread pudding recipe in an effort to salvage all the tomatoes I used to make the bread as well as the too dense to eat but very flavorful bread.
Normally I can save almost any food failure. It’s what I’m known for amongst my friends – having some kind of food flop that turns into a masterpiece in the end. Like the time I reconstituted failed peanut butter whip cream (I added the peanut butter way too early and then the ingredients not only wouldn’t whip but didn’t even mix) by heating it to melt down all the ingredients, re-chilling it and then whipping it back into shape. I was sure that would again happen in this occasion.
So here’s what I learned about making savory bread pudding. Bad bread = bad bread pudding. Which is a shame because I think this dish has so much potential (if using bread that was, at one time, decent). It would be unfair for me to rate this recipe based on this particular experience. The smell that permeated my kitchen while baking leads me to believe that under different circumstances, I could have blogged about a  (4) or  (5) apple dish.

3 thoughts on “Savory Tomato Bread Pudding

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