What do you make for dinner when all you have in the house is one gigantic tomato, half a loaf of nearly-stale bread, some onions, garlic, and half a bell pepper? Baked pasta with a yummy bread crumb topping is one option, but I wasn’t in the mood for pasta. I had heard about the concept of savory French toast and it had piqued my interest, especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I decided to attempt to whip up my own version and, boy, am I glad I did.
Despite its humble beginnings, this dish was absolutely delicious. I mean, yum! Despite the bread, milk, eggs, and cheese, it was pleasantly light. The flavors really packed a punch. Don’t skimp on a grocery store tomato with this, though … home grown or farmer’s market only or it just won’t do this home run dish justice. This dish is perfect for a crowd because it can be prepared ahead of time and just thrown in the oven. The next time (first time?) I host a brunch, this, or a variation of it, is definitely going to be on the menu. YUM.
Savory French Toast with Sliced Tomatoes
1/2 loaf thinly sliced challah bread
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tbs. olive oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dried parsley
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup shredded gouda cheese
1 tbs. butter, softened
Non-stick cooking spray
1 large beefsteak tomato, sliced into 1/2″ slices
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are translucent, roughly 3-5 minutes. Add diced pepper and sauté another 5 minutes until onions are a light golden brown. Transfer contents of sauté pan to a small bowl and let cool.
In another small bowl, beat eggs, milk, dijon, dried parsley, a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place one layer of bread on the bottom of the pan (roughly 3-4 slices). Pour roughly 1/4 of the egg mixture over the bread slices, then daub a little bit of the butter over it. Layer 1/2 shredded cheese over bread slices. Place cooled vegetable mixture over top of cheese and add remainder of cheese on top of that. Place remaining bread slices over top. Pour remainder of the egg mixture over the bread. Allow the bread to sit for a minimum of half an hour but up to 48 hours in the refrigerator to allow time for the egg mixture to be absorbed by the bread.
Preheat oven to 400°. Place casserole dish, uncovered, in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for ten minutes to set. It should look like picture following the break.
Serve alongside sliced tomatoes with a tsp. or so of balsamic vinegar drizzled over top and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.