Croutons epitomize my every at-bat in middle school softball: high potential, terrible execution. While my athleticism has only declined, I am happy to report that croutons have been redeemed by Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons.
In theory, croutons should be one of the best things in life: lightly crunchy bread that adds texture, soaks up flavor, and express delivers them both to my taste buds in carb form. In practice, most are dry little bread rocks that scrape the roof of my mouth and are too solid to spear with a fork. At best, I eat them with my fingers when no one is watching. At worst, a failed fork-to-crouton harpoon session sends one flying out of my Caesar salad and into my neighboring diner’s wine glass. This is no proper way for food to behave.
Croutons, I believe in your potential, and I have found it in Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons.
Forget the hockey-puck bread scraps too brittle to be stabbed with a fork. The croutons in Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons are lightly toasted little sponges, drenched in the fresh juices of vibrant summer tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. When combined with creamy white beans, spinach, fresh basil, and a smother of Parmesan cheese, humble croutons are elevated from forgettable topping to one-skillet-dinner star.
Let’s ignore that tooth-cracking bag of store-bought croutons that has been aging on your shelf since last Thanksgiving. Grab a loaf of hearty bakery bread, and let’s make our own! Loaf becomes slice; slice becomes cubes. We are on our way to killer croutons.
The croutons are the vehicle, and fresh summer tomatoes are the flavor special. 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. Bring them home and admire them. This is what late summer is all about.
Now that we’ve appreciated the tomatoes, it’s onto chopping and toasting. Bread cubes are lightly sautéed in olive oil to become croutons. Tomatoes are chopped. White beans and basil stand ready. Parmesan is on hand for the ooey-gooey.
Once the croutons are toasted, we add the tomatoes, white beans, spinach and basil to the same skillet. As the tomatoes cook, their juices break down and the croutons drink them up, creating a summer-soaked tomato bake that is a bit like a savory bread pudding. With the addition of the white beans and spinach, we have a satisfying and balanced main dish, all in one skillet. This is my favorite kind of meal.
Dear croutons, you have been redeemed, thanks to Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons.
Now…anyone have tips to save my softball swing?
Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons
- 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.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite projects and tutorials.Register
More marvelous skillet meals: