Scalloped Tomatoes with Cornbread Croutons / by Chelsea Zwieg

You know those dishes that are just so perfect, so delicious, and yet words cannot do them justice at all? This is one of my favorite way to use tomatoes and yet, when asked to describe it, the most that comes to my mind is soggy bread in a good way. Wait, don't leave, it's better than it sounds. 

I first tried making scalloped tomatoes like 6 years ago, when Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for them that was from none other that the goddess Ina Garten. If I could be instant best friends with anyone, I think it would be Ina. We could just hang out in her fancy Hamptons farmhouse kitchen all day, make scalloped tomatoes and talk about the wonder that is crispy croutons soaking up juicy tomatoes under a bubbling layer of cheese. 

Scalloped tomatoes are essentially croutons baked with a whole bunch of tomatoes, some garlic, basil and parmesan cheese. It is one of the simplest and yet most fantastically summery tasting dishes I have ever had. But, since I made scalloped tomatoes the good-old-Ina-way a few days ago for an article I was working on, I decided to mix it up this time around. 

Instead of the normal french bread, I used leftover (and a little overbaked) cornbread, cilantro instead of basil and cheddar jack instead of parmesan. The cornbread gets tossed in the skillet first with some olive oil until it is perfectly golden brown and crispy on all sides. Then the tomatoes and garlic are added just long enough for the tomatoes to start to release their juice. Then the whole things gets topped with cheese and popped in the oven where you can forget about for 40 minutes until you pull out the most magical skillet full of cornbread chunks, bursting tomatoes and melty cheese. And then you'll never be able to forget about it again. But that's ok, because we are heading into August and there is no shortage of tomatoes happening. Praise. The. Lord. 

Scalloped Tomatoes with Cornbread Croutons

Note: I used some leftover jalapeño cheddar cornbread which was wonderful, but you can use any cornbread you want. Boxed, leftover, fresh baked because you're feeling ambitious....it's all cornbread and it's all good. 

Adapted from the flawless Ina Garten

Serves 4

| Ingredients | 

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (roma or cherry tomatoes work best since they have less liquid) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups cornbread, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar jack cheese

| Ingredients | 

  • Preheat oven to 350. 
  • Cut tomatoes into 1/2" pieces. Place in a large bowl and add garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a 9" cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the cornbread cubes and stir so that they are coated in oil. Cook, stirring gently and often, until they are golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
  • Place skillet in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the cheese and tomatoes are bubbly, 35-40 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  • This is good served on it's own or with cilantro, avocado, sour cream or even a fried egg on top.