serves: 6 Servings
You know how I feel about wasting food; everything in my kitchen gets used, even old bread. I'd like you to try this dish, so even if you don't find yourself with a leftover loaf of bread, buy a fresh one and let it dry overnight. Think of this side dish as a bread lasagna and serve it as a contorno to fish or meat. For a different and delicious brunch dish top each serving with a poached or fried egg.
3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes , ripe, peeled, and seeded
Italian polum tomatoes, (preferably San Marzano)
1 pound day-old country bread, dry and crusty, sliced (about 16 3/4-inch slices)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cups Pecorino Romano, grated
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional salt for water
Pass the tomatoes through a food mill fitted with the fine disc and set aside. (Alternatively, process the tomatoes in a food processor, using quick on/off pulses until smooth. Don't overprocess the tomatoes or you will incorporate air into them and the sauce will look pink.)
Bring two quarts of salted water to boil in a saucepan. Dunk the bread slices, one by one, into the boiling water for a second or two-just long enough to wet them-and set them on a clean kitchen towel to drain. Press the moistened bread lightly to remove excess water.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Scatter the onions into the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the oregano and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 11-inch oval baking dish (or similarly sized baking dish) with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Spoon in enough of the tomato sauce to coat the bottom and arrange half the bread slices over the sauce, tearing them and wedging them as necessary to make an even layer. Spoon half the remaining tomato sauce over the bread and sprinkle half the Pecorino over the sauce. Make another layer of bread slices, tomato sauce and cheese.
Bake until the casserole is heated through and the cheese topping is browned, about 25 minutes.