Warm tomatoes from the authors behind The Casserole Queens Cookbook. "This dish is so simply prepared, yet yields amazingly complex flavours. Sandy Pollock was inspired to make these tasty stacks from ingredients that seemed always to be on hand in her home. Because there are so few ingredients in this dish, it is imperative that your ingredients are top quality. We also recommend that you take the time to make your breadcrumbs from scratch (see recipe below), as it adds that extra something to the dish. And don't worry about any extra breadcrumbs getting stale; just store them in the freezer and they will stay fresh for months. If you find yourself with extra basil, don't waste it! Use it to make some tasty pesto."
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4"-thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 1/4"-thick slices fresh mozzarella
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (see below)
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1 loaf day-old bread
2 tbsp dried thyme or oregano
2 tbsp dried basil or parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a 9" x 13" casserole dish with cooking spray.
Step 2: Arrange one layer of tomatoes (do not overlap) in the bottom of the casserole dish. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Put a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each tomato, then top each with basil. Top each stack with another slice of tomato, and season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Combine the breadcrumbs (see below) and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle the crumbs over the stacks.
Step 4: Bake for 5-10 minutes or until the tomatoes are heated through, the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, and the mozzarella just starts to melt. Serve hot.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Step 2: Cut the bread into 1" cubes and pulse in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and dry them out by baking for 10-15 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Allow the crumbs to cool completely.
Step 3: Return the dried crumbs to the food processor. Add the thyme, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then pulse until the crumbs are finely processed and well mixed with the seasoning.
Step 4: Store in an airtight container for up to six months.
Reprinted with permission from Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock's The Casserole Queens Cookbook (2011 Clarkson Potter).