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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This sounds wonderful! Do you think I could use fresh spinach? This is definitely on the menu this week!
This would be wonderful with fresh spinach! Just use about the same amount, and add it right before you pull the skillet off the heat to wilt it a bit. Yum!
Yes! I totally agree with you on the mouth-scraping croutons. But I still somehow always hold out hope that they will be something like yours…this dish looks like the most amazingly perfect dinner ever.
HOW DID I MISS THAT PUN???? You are still the queen :)
SUCH a funny image in Pretty Woman, and yes that’s exactly how I feel about eating croutons! Also, getting hit with a grounder?? That’s rough Luci. I vote we chill in the dugout and paint our nails ;-)
Finally made this for dinner tonight — total win for the fam!
I was afraid that my guys wouldn’t be satisfied without more carbs so I boiled 1 lb of spaghetti and served this on top of it. They LOVED it! They asked for seconds of JUST THE TOMATO dish!!
I had to make a few substitutions for: no basil, used parsley; no spinach, used, well, gulp, something that added sweetness and crunch and zero vitamin a/wasn’t leafy or green — fresh corn scraped off the cob (languishing in the crisper, I HAD to do it!).
All in all, seasoning was right on. Cheese was perfect amount. Croutons: life-changing!
Marina! I’m so happy that your family loved this recipe and that you took inspiration to make it your own too. I cracked up at the comment about “more carbs” (your boys sound like gentlemen after my own heart), and I love that you used right-from-the-cob sweet corn. It’s one of my favorite summer treats and deserves to be celebrated. Wishing you all the best. Thanks for taking time to share your review!
Think it could be done without the cheese?
Hi Pam! Definitely! Just taste it once it’s ready to see if you need a bit more salt, since the Parmesan itself is pretty salty, so you might need to make up for its absence. Hope you enjoy :)
Hi Erin, As you can probably tell we are totally digging your taste over here! Made this dish this week as well and oh my goodness, with the cheese, basil, tomato, creamy beans, it’s such a wonderful, flavorful, comforting summer dish. The leftovers are just as good, if not better… I used fresh spinach as it’s what I had on hand, but next time will probably go with frozen because mixing in 10oz of leaves was kind of a challenge. I laughed to myself as everything was overflowing, “there’s a good reason Erin used frozen…!” haha.
For sure we will make this one again too! Thanks again!
Ana, hooray! I feel like I’m in your kitchen, and I totally love it. (That was supposed to be friendly not creepy, lol.) As always, thank you so much for trying my recipes and taking time to leave your review here. You’re the best!
Love this recipe. It is the best thing I’ve made in months. Using fresh basil makes a huge difference. Thank you Erin
Hi Gerard! I’m so happy to hear that you tried and enjoyed this recipe! It’s one of our new favorites. Thanks for taking time to let me know how it turned out for you. Have a great day!
I made this, added some bacon and eggs on top like someone else suggested. It was delicious. Thank you for a great recipe to use up the summer tomatoes
Hi Breanne! I’m so happy you tried and enjoy these recipe, and I bet the bacon and eggs were amazing. Thanks so much for letting me know how it turned out for you!
Hi Erin! This dish looks amazing- I’m wondering what kind of skillet you recommend using-would the
Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 11-3/4-Inch Skillet that you recommend in your “store” be deep enough? Loving your recipes- thank you!
Hi Laura! Great question. I honestly feel like that might be a little small. You could do it, but I would be worried about things flipping out. I try to pick something a little bit bigger if you can, just to make it easier on yourself. I hope you love the recipe! It’s one of my favorites :-)
Oh man, I loved this recipe! It wasn’t a ton of work but it sure seemed fancy. I wished I had company over to help me eat it! I recommended this on my blog today: http://healthylittlechanges.com/2015/05/28/recipes-whole-foods-italian-three-ways/. I’ve linked to you for the recipe and given you full credit. Do you mind if I use one of your beautiful photos? Again, I’m fully crediting your excellent work :)
Hi Lindsay, I’m so excited to hear that you liked this recipe! Thanks so much for your kind comment. I just checked your post, and the way you shared the photo/recipe is perfect. I truly appreciate it!
This dish looks awesome but I have the same question as Laura Strickland; what type of pan/skillet do you use? I have a 5.5 quart Le Creuset French Oven as well as some T-Fal non-stick cookware that is oven safe to 350.
Great question Laura: I used a 3 quart skillet, but it was pretty tight to fit everything in at the end. I’d shoot for something that’s at least 3.5 quarts. I’m not sure what size your T-fal non-stick cookware is, but you’d definitely be safe with the Le Creuset. It’ll be a little deep and might feel a bit awkward when flipping the croutons, but it should do the trick. I hope that helps!
Amazing. The boyfriend wants this into the weekly rotation
I am so excited to hear that Ellen! I hope you both continue enjoying it for weeks to come. Thanks so much for letting me know how it turned out!
This recipe was so easy and so delicious.
I’m so happy to hear that Sud! Thank you for letting me know!
This was delicious, easy and looked impressive – thank you! I will make it again!
I am soooooo happy to hear that Laura! Thanks for trying the recipe and taking time to leave this kind review.
Do you have any recommendations for substituting the croutons with quinoa. We aren’t really bread people (we are freaks of nature, I know), but this recipe looks so tasty and I want to try it. Would we cook the quinoa separate and add it before baking?
Hi Shannon! Although I have never tried the recipe this way, I think the approach that you suggested would work just fine. You can simply omit the croutons, then stir in the cooked quinoa. If you decide to go this route, I’d love to hear how it turns out!
I tried it with the quinoa and used fresh kale instead of frozen spinach since that is what I had on hand and needed to use it up. I precooked the quinoa and the kale and cooked the tomatoes by themselves since I didnt use bread. The tomatoes were very liquidy and since I had no bread to soak it up I tried to boil off some liquid. The tomatoes kind of disintegrated but I just poured them in the casserole dish overtop of everything else and mixed them in.
It was pretty good. I think I will try it with bread next time just because Im sure it is better that way. I also topped my helping with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Thanks so much for sharing the results with us Susan! I can definitely vouch for this recipe with bread (as can other reviewers), so I hope you enjoy it that way too :)
If you don’t want to use Northern beans, is there another type you think will work?
Hi Lauri! Any kind of white beans will work well here. White kidney and cannellini are two other great options. You could do chickpeas, though they will be much chewier and have a less neutral flavor. Personally, I prefer the softer texture of the northern, kidney or cannellini, but the choice is yours.
Can I use canned diced tomatoes?
Hi Lindsay! I honestly would recommend fresh tomatoes. Since there are not very many ingredients in the dish, the flavor and texture of each is really important, and fresh will give you the best results.
What a wonderful recipe. My wife and I just got two and a half pounds of tomatoes from our CSA and I needed to do something with them (I didn’t want to make any more sauce. I converted eleven pounds into sauce last week!) So I searched and found your recipe. Yummy! I added twice as much Parmesan, used canelli beans instead of Northerns, cubed up a high quality white bread (heresy) which I sautéed in ample olive oil. This recipe is going into the regular rotation of meals on our table.
Bill, I am so happy to hear how much you and your wife enjoyed this recipe! I bet it tasted absolutely stellar with the CSA tomatoes. Thanks so much for sharing this kind review!
Can anyone suggest any alternatives to using spinach in this recipe?
JL, you could us arugula or simply omit it. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
This was so easy to make, and so good! Recipe is perfect as is, though I didn’t have every ingredient at home so here’s what I improvised:
-I didn’t have frozen spinach, so I used fresh mixed greens.
-I don’t own a big skillet, so I cooked the stovetop portion in a saucepan, then when it was time for the oven I just dumped everything from the saucepan into a casserole dish.
-Lastly I wanted it vegan so instead of parmesan, I blended 1/2 cup cashews with 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1/2 tsp salt.
..So the recipe is very forgiving and tastes like a lighter, fresher lasagna. Thank you Erin!
I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the recipe, Kel! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Absolutely fabulous one dish dinner that beautifully blends all of your favorite summer tastes in a rustic offering of tomatoes, garlic, basil, parmigiana cheese, with creamy white beans for protein. Will definitely make this again! Serve with a crispy salad and more French bread!
Hi Deb! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This was amazing! I had a lot of tomatoes from the garden to use and this worked perfectly. I added lots of fresh spinach. I am making another batch to bring to my garden club workday in the community garden next week! Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Michelle! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Lovely recipe! I have made this twice now and serve it with veggie sausages which is a very popular dinner with me and my partner :)
Hi Helen! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I served this at Thanksgiving dinner using heirloom tomatoes from the garden and it was a hit with everyone, especially with our vegetarian guests. I needed my copper skillet for another vegetarian dish so once I’d mixed everything but the topping together, I transferred it to a casserole. This is going into my favourites file.
Hi Cheryl! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Believe it or not, down here in southwest Texas we are still getting our garden tomatoes and basil. However we had to pick them all since a freeze is coming, so I was looking for a recipe that used lots of tomatoes and this one was perfect! I highly recommend serving this with over easy fried eggs with slices of the leftover sourdough bread I used for the croutons! So so good! Can’t wait for our garden tomatoes next year, since this dish will be made often. Wish I would have found it sooner. 😋
Hi Becki! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
So my grocery delivery order in error sent me 5 bags of vine-ripened tomatoes rather than the 5 tomatoes I initially ordered. I am currently a full-time culinary student and wasting food is simply not an option. I was searching for something tomato-based to pair with stuffed bell peppers; this was the first recipe I came across and there are no words to justifiably describe this instant party in my mouth!!! Holy Wow, this was so fantastic that I prepared the dish multiple times to share with friends and family. Brilliant and delicious casserole!! You totally ROCK!!
Hi Kat! That is so kind of you! THANK YOU!