This dish was created a number of years ago for a pot luck gathering. I needed to come up with a side dish that was quick and easy and would feed the masses. It was a huge hit, and has become a family favorite.
2 quarts tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
½ stalk celery with leaves, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
1 c. plain bread crumbs, divided
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
Select a 1-quart casserole dish and butter it with one tablespoon of the butter. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.
Strain the liquid from the tomatoes reserving it for soup stock. Break up the tomatoes and set aside.
Sautee the garlic, onion, celery and green pepper until the onion is translucent. Stir in the basil, a good grind of white pepper and kosher salt to taste.
Place half the tomatoes in the prepared casserole dish. Carefully spoon the sautéed vegetables on top of the tomatoes and spread evenly. Sprinkle over ½ cup of the bread crumbs. Add the remaining tomatoes on top of the bread crumbs. Top with the remaining ½ cup of bread crumbs. Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Bake in the preheated oven until bread crumbs are golden brown and the casserole is bubbling at the sides—45 minutes to 1 hour.