Around here, ripe tomatoes are still abundant at the farmers’ markets. For a few weeks more, I’m thinking, given our current stretch of warm, sunny days. And while late-season tomatoes are still around, do yourself a favor: Make this cheddary tomato gratin recipe. At least once.
Hell, let’s call it what it is: A super cheesy tomato casserole. There’s nothing fancy about it. This recipe hails from my battered old copy of the “Colorado Cache Cookbook,” one of those Junior League cookbooks you’ll find in practically every midsized city in the country. This cookbook was a bridal shower gift from a long-ago colleague who hailed from Denver. It’s a whopper: More than 400 pages of recipes of various types and qualities.
This tomato cheddar gratin is a favorite recipe around here (it was dubbed Tomatoes Somerset in the book). I can’t believe I haven’t shared it here before. It’s the perfect summer-to-fall transitional recipe, when you’re not ready to say goodbye to tomatoes but you’re needing something heartier to do with them as the weather chills.
Those tomatoes sitting on your windowsill? Yep, this is what you’re gonna do with them.
tomato cheddar gratin
3 medium ripe red tomatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (see Note)
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup saltine or Ritz cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of paprika
3–4 red pepper rings
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a baking dish. Toss all the ingredients except the paprika and red pepper rings in a bowl to combine. Transfer to the baking dish and top with a sprinkle of paprika and the pepper rings. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the top is browned, about 40–45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
This dish is even better reheated the next day.
Note: For my money, the best cheese for this kind of dish — where you want it to melt creamy and smooth — is Hoffman's super sharp cheddar. You'll find it in the grocery deli section or at J.E. Gibbs or Silverglade's at Findlay Market. It's also our go-to burger and grilled cheese sandwich cheese.