Homemade croutons are the crown jewels of this Tomato Casserole that also features garden-fresh tomatoes, tender white beans, spinach, and Parmesan cheese.
In theory, croutons should be one of the best things in life: lightly crunchy bread that adds texture, soaks up flavorful sauces (like this Caesar Dressing), and express delivers them to my taste buds in carb form.
In practice, they’re far from it.
Most are dry little bread rocks that scrape the roof of my mouth and are too solid to spear with a fork.
This is no proper way for food to behave and recipes (like in this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad) deserve better.
Croutons, I believe in your potential, and I have found it in this comforting summer tomato casserole.
5 Star Review
“This was delicious, easy, and looked impressive”— Laura —
Forget the hockey-puck bread scraps too brittle to be stabbed with a fork (or sink to the bottom of your bowl of Instant Pot Tomato Soup). Instead, grab a loaf of hearty bakery bread, and let’s make our own!
The homemade croutons in this skillet tomato casserole are:
- Lightly toasted little sponges, drenched in the fresh juices of vibrant summer tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.
- Combined with an addictive combination of creamy white beans, spinach, fresh basil, and a smother of Parmesan cheese.
- Elevated from forgettable topping to the star of this one-pot meal.
How to Make Tomato Casserole
A marriage between toasty homemade croutons and fresh, heirloom tomatoes are at the heart of this tomato casserole with white beans, garlic, basil, and Parmesan cheese.
- Bread. The best homemade croutons are made with GOOD bread. I like to use a crusty, whole wheat sourdough loaf from a local bakery.
- Tomatoes. Fresh is best (save the canned tomatoes for this Crockpot Italian Chicken). Any size, color, and shape of tomato will be absolutely lovely. Go on a spree for heirlooms at the farmers market; raid your (or your neighbor’s) garden; grab the brightest jewels you can find at the grocery store.
- Spinach. Adds color and a healthy dose of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid to every serving.
- White Beans. Great Northern beans are my favorite for this dish, but cannellini beans are also a great option. Both are packed with plant-based protein and fiber.
- Parmesan Cheese. Adds that essential cheesy factor that makes this dish cozy and comforting.
- Garlic and Basil. Bring fresh Italian flavors to this dish.
- Salt and Sugar. When working with fresh tomatoes, salt and sugar are important ingredients for drawing out their juices and balancing their natural acidity.
Try this recipe for breakfast. I love to serve it in the mornings with over-easy or poached eggs. The ooey-gooey yolks of the eggs paired with this tomato casserole are a match made in heaven. (Ironically, similar to this Eggs in Purgatory recipe.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- To a preheated skillet, over medium heat, add the cubed bread with a drizzle of olive oil. Toast until evenly golden.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper to the skillet and cook until the tomatoes break down.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the beans, spinach, and basil.
- Top with cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake until the top is golden and the tomatoes are bubbly. ENJOY!
- To Store. Keep leftover tomato casserole leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. For best results, warm in a preheated 350 degree F oven until the casserole is heated through and the croutons have crisped up again. You may also reheat in a microwave.
- To Freeze. Prepared tomato casserole may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat as directed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ripe tomatoes should give slightly to the touch. They should not be soft or mushy, only slightly tender.
Although I have never tried the recipe this way, please feel free to experiment. Simply omit the croutons, then stir in cooked quinoa. Then, finish the recipe in the oven as directed.
Homemade croutons can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature or 1 month frozen.
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced bread use a good, crusty whole-grain bakery loaf or sourdough
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes cut into a 1/2-inch dice
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can Great Northern beans rinsed and drained
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach thawed and pressed dry
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves julienned
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
- To the skillet, add the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down.
- Off the heat, stir in the beans, spinach, and basil until well mixed. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Enjoy hot or warm.
- TO STORE: Tomato casserole leftovers may be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: For best results, warm in a preheated 350 degree F oven until the casserole is heated through and the croutons have crisped up again. You may also reheat in a microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Prepared tomato casserole may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat as directed above.
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