I wrote this last week and now that everyone is back to school, I realize that I never got around to hitting publish. Here you go.
It has been one busy summer around here.
We’ve been hurtling from one winery-related event to the next; our oldest son graduated from high school, worked two jobs and then started college; the other kids have been to various summer camps scheduled around part-time jobs; we’ve entertained a steady stream of out-of-town visitors, both business and personal; squeezed in one short vacation to our favorite beach town; and suffered through the hottest summer on record in western Oregon. Whew – I’m tired!
One of the many things I love about McMinnville is that the public schools traditionally start on the day after Labor Day. So sensible! August is still summer vacation time in my book. And this year, because Labor Day lands a little later, it feels like we get a whole extra week of summer.
Mercifully, the weather has also broken this week. We’ve gotten several bouts of much-needed rain and the temperatures are hovering in the 70’s during the day and down to the 50’s at night! I love it! This is the kind of summer weather that compelled this Midwesterner to move to the Pacific Northwest! And by the way, the grapes like it too.
So in the midst of this fairly quiet week and as the rain came down on the crispy dry lawn, I decided it was time for some comfort food.
With a basket of tomatoes from a friend’s garden sitting on the counter I knew the direction I was headed. I pulled out Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Harvest – a book I often turn to for vegetable inspiration – and flipped through it looking for something cozy and warm that would happily incorporate those lovely tomatoes.
I found the start of what I was after in her tomato strata. As I set out to make it I embellished the recipe a bit, which is typical for me. It turned out to be the perfect combination of cheesy, crusty goodness with a soft bread-y center. Love.
And in case, you were wondering, leftovers are also delicious for breakfast with a poached egg on top.
- 1 pound stale bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 large garlic clove (cut in half)
- 3/4 cup gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
- 3/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-3 quart gratin dish.
- If the bread is soft, toast it. Rub all of the bread, both sides, with the cut clove of garlic. Tear the bread into chunks and put a layer in the bottom of the gratin. Top with tomato slices and season them with salt, pepper and thyme. If there is any garlic left mince that and sprinkle it over the tomatoes too.
- Then spread about a third of each of the cheeses over the tomatoes.
- Continue with one or two more layers, ending with cheese on top.
- Beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper and pour it over all.
- Bake for 40 minutes until puffed and brown. Serve warm.