Fall may have arrived in the rest of the country, but here in Southern California the last week has been a scorcher!! Record high temps have popped up all over the Southland. During those days, even the thought of turning on the oven can send one racing for air conditioning – which many of us who live along the coast do not possess!
Of course, In the midst of this heatwave I needed to make a breakfast for 20 – 30 people – and it had to be cooked!! Personally, when the mercury gets this high, all I want in the morning is some cold yogurt and some fresh fruit, BUT that simply wasn’t an option. As the saying goes, “the show must go on” and so “go on” I did. I started by going through all my standard breakfast recipes – but somehow an egg dish laden with eggs, milk and cheese just didn’t appeal.
So, I started pulling out cookbooks and an idea began to take shape. Lo and behold I found the perfect idea – a savory french toast casserole – light on the eggs and cheese and filled with juicy tomatoes – perfect! And perfect, it was. Not too heavy, but with plenty of flavor and substance to qualify as the main attraction for breakfast!!! This was great paired with some fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast – or pair it with a simple salad for an easy weeknight meal.
Tomato French Toast
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier
- 1 loaf ciabbata or rustic bread
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 8 Roma tomatoes
- 12 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese or mozzarella/parmesan mix
- Cut the bread into 1 inch thick slices. If the bread is really fresh, place slices on a sheet pan and place in a 200 degree oven for 5 – 10 minutes to dry out.
- Slice tomatoes and place in a colander to drain. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, herbs de provence and salt and pepper. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Add the bread slices, turning them to coat. Set aside. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
- Layer the tomatoes over the bottom, overlapping as necessary – reserving about 12 slices for the top of the casserole. Drizzle with olive oil. NOTE: If using sun dried tomatoes in oil, use about 1 TBSP. of the oil from the tomatoes instead of the olive oil. Sprinkle the sun dried tomatoes on top and then sprinkle the minced garlic.
- Top with egg soaked bread slices (you may have to squish the bread to fit – that’s ok!!). Top with the remaining tomato slices and sprinkle on the cheese.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread and cheese are a golden brown. If desired, you can place the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes to achieve a crispier finish.
NOTE: I used the Quattro Fromagi blend of cheese from Trader Joe’s in this recipe. Shredded Parmesan or a blend of shredded Parmesan and mozzarella would work equally well. You can assemble this the night before you plan to serve it. Just pull it out the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you place it in the oven and bake as directed.