This is a weird recipe. I know it. So much so that for a long time I didn’t consider sharing it with you. What’s more, I’m pretty sure I got the idea from Rachael Ray. So half the world knows about it and the other half doesn’t want to know about it. But here I am, soldiering on. It’s just that it’s so delicious.
There are just some foods that shouldn’t be quite as delicious as they are. This, for instance, it basically, bread, some marinara, and cheese. Nothing special. But put together just right, it’s transformed and becomes something that you’d happily serve your family for dinner, and they would (very) happily eat for dinner. And by eat I mean scarf down until there is nothing left. My toddler, who is usually too busy to be much concerned with dinner, had three helpings. THREE.
So here’s how this goes down. You have some leftover bread, stale and dry. You cut it up into gnocchi-sized bits, then give them a few turns in an olive oil slicked skillet until they are crispy and golden on the edges. If they get a little bit burned on the edges, all the better. Then, you slather your toasty bits of bread with your favorite tomato sauce, and toss it all together until every little bit is coated. You top the whole saucy mess off with a generous amount of fresh mozzarella, which then goes under the broiler until it gets all blistered and gooey and seeps back down into the bread and sauce. Top the whole shebang off with a bit of fresh basil, bring it to the table, and call it dinner. Voila.
So, this doesn’t exactly taste like gnocchi. But it really just doesn’t matter. It tastes like bits of toasty bread soaked in rich sauce and topped with melted cheese and fresh herbs. Yeah, oh well, right?!
If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can make this in another kind of skillet, but transfer to an oven-proof dish before putting it under the broiler.
- I loaf of leftover bread (about 1 lb), cut into 1" cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups marinara sauce, or other homemade or jarred sauce
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" thick rounds
- 2 sprigs of basil, roughly torn
Preheat your broiler to HIGH.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the bread and stir until all the bread is coated in the butter and oil mixture. Continue cooking on medium-low heat, stirring intermittently, until the bread pieces are crispy and golden on the edges, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and stir until all the pieces are covered in sauce. Even out all the bread pieces in the skillet, then top with slices of mozzarella. Place the skillet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, watching it almost constantly so it doesn't burn. It's done when the cheese just starts to form dark brown spots and gets all bubbly.
Remove from oven and top with torn basil. Serve immediately.