Take care not to cook the tomatoes too long: This dish tastes best if they are still a bit firm. Garnish, if you can, with basil leaves of different shapes and colors, both green and purple. Serve the gratin warm or at room temperature.
4 pounds sweet ripe tomatoes, mixed colors if possible
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons small basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°.
Tear bread with your hands to form coarse crumbs; spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Combine breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons oil, parsley, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place tomatoes in a shallow dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil, torn basil, vinegar, garlic, and shallot; toss gently to coat.
Arrange tomato slices in a shallow 3- to 4-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour any remaining liquid from the bowl over the tomatoes. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes (tomatoes should still be firm). Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden. Remove dish from oven; let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with small basil leaves, if desired.