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A Savory Twist On A Classic - Tomato Bread Pudding With Basil Cream

You know I can’t stray too far from my Italian food, and I’ve been meaning to play with this dish for a while.

This dish is fairly impressive, so it’s great for company. And despite the fact that the tomatoes take a long time to roast, it’s very easy.


3 pounds plum tomatoes such as Roma,

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

3 tablespoons cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 head garlic, cloves sliced

16 ounces cubed (1-inch) country-style Italian bread*

1 cup half & half

6 large eggs

1 cup packed basil leaves

1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Early in the day or day before:

Preheat oven to 250°F with rack in middle. Over the sink squeeze the tomato halves to release inside seeds.

Toss tomatoes in a bowl with garlic slices, herbes de Provence, 1 tablespoon oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a large heavy 4-sided sheet pan. Save any oil left over.

Cook for 4-5 hours until soft and beginning to brown in places. Remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 375.

Place cubes bread in large mixing bowl. *I used what bread I had in the freezer - half sourdough and half seeded multigrain. Just use what you have on hand.

Rough chop the tomato-garlic combination and add to the bread.

Butter 8 3” ramekins.

In a blender, mix together on medium speed half & half, eggs, basil, cheese, the oil from the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Pour mixture over bread and fold with hands until bread is completely covered with the liquid.

Fill each ramekin fully (this bread pudding doesn’t really rise) and put into the oven. You can place them on a cookie sheet to make going in and out of the oven easier.

Bake for 30 minutes until the top starts to brown. Press down on one of the breads - it should be fairly tight.

Cool for 5-10 minutes.

This dish very moist, but if you’re looking for a little more, you can top with a little pesto or herbed ricotta.

As small as they are, these are very filling, so one would make a perfect lunch or light dinner with a small dressed arugula salad. As an appetizer, use mini muffin pans to make it one bite (and cut the cooking time by about 10 minutes.) A dry, light Rosé would be the perfect accompaniment. I’ve been enjoying the Olema Rose Cotes de Provence, 2018.

Anthony Bourdain said “Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.

Mangiare e bere a sazietà.

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