Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato and Potato Casserole from Tomato: A Fresh-from-the-Vine Cookbook

Though the book won't be available until February, fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes and fresh-from-the-earth potatoes are in season right now. Here's a recipe for enjoying a bit of both.

Tomato and Potato Casserole
Serves 4

In this recipe the exact amounts of ingredients depend on the size of dish you are using, so consider the quantities below to be just suggestions. The casserole can be served as either a side dish or a simple vegetarian main dish, and it’s one that kids will like.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1⁄3 cup milk
8 ounces
(2 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1–2 teaspoons tomato paste as needed
1/4 cup chopped basil or parsley leaves
10 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 or 2 slicing tomatoes, sliced

1. Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold water, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), bring to a boil, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft. Drain the potatoes, and sprinkle with pepper to taste.

2. Mix the mustard with the milk and pour it over the potatoes; roughly mash them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cheddar; add the remainder to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and grease an 8-inch round baking dish or something similar.

4. If you are using canned tomatoes, drain them and reserve the liquid. Combine the tomatoes with enough of the liquid and a little tomato paste to make a thick, saucy mass. If using fresh tomatoes, simmer them for a few minutes to release their juice, and then add tomato paste only if needed.

5. Stir the basil into the tomatoes, and pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the potato mixture. Arrange the cherry tomatoes attractively around the edge of the dish. Run a fork over the potatoes to rough them up, then scatter on the reserved cheddar.

6. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through. If the top browns too much before the casserole is hot, cover the dish with foil and lower the heat to 350°F. Serve hot.

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