My Aunt Priscilla, who is a pastry chef in Nashville, Tennessee, shared this recipe with my family last summer.
It is an excellent surprise side dish with any grilled meat or fish!
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper, divided
½ cup olive oil, divided
1 head garlic, peeled
10 cups cubed hearty bread such as French or Italian Farmhouse
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
8 large eggs
2 cups Fontina cheese, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss tomatoes in a bowl with the herbs, salt, pepper, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with garlic cloves, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let the garlic burn. Remove from oven, and gently mash the garlic pods, tossing with the tomatoes. Transfer to a bowl.
Place the cubed bread on a cookie sheet, toss with remaining oil, then return to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until bread is golden brown. Remove from oven. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, one teaspoon of salt, and one teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the cheeses and mix well. Butter a 3-quart baking dish and layer with the bread and tomato-garlic mixture. Pour custard over pudding, pushing down in places to let liquid soak. Bake until firm to the touch and golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Serve hot.