Stewed Tomatoes with Butter Toasted Croutons

Stewed tomatoes is one dish I’ve never had any place but at home, cooked by my mother. I’ve never seen them on a menu anywhere, have you? Too bad, too; as they are truly delicious, and so easy to make. Warning – do not skimp on the butter or sugar. The sugar is needed to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and the butter is absolutely necessary for the taste. This batch was made with fresh heirloom tomatoes from the market; the better quality tomato you start with, the better the result will be. That said, during most of the year when farm fresh juicy tomatoes are not available we will make stewed tomatoes with canned tomatoes. We also often mix in some cooked elbow macaroni instead of serving it with croutons. Oddly enough, stewed tomatoes of some sort is what we usually have to accompany tuna macaroni salad. Something about the over all mix of the flavors really works.

Stewed Tomatoes with Butter Toasted Croutons Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3.

Ingredients

Tomatoes:

  • 3 cups cored, peeled, roughly chopped, fresh, ripe tomatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped

Croutons

  • 2 or 3 slices of crusty French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Garlic salt

Method

stewed-tomatoes-1.jpg stewed-tomatoes-2.jpg

1 Put peeled, chopped tomatoes, butter, sugar, salt and pepper into a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked, soft, and the flavors have blended. Add chopped basil and add more butter, sugar, salt and pepper if needed for balance.

croutons-1.jpg croutons-3.jpg

2 Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small frying pan on medium heat. Add the bread cubes, arrange in a single layer on the pan. Let gently cook on medium heat so that the bread dries out and gets slightly toasted. Turn pieces over to toast other sides. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the croutons are crunchy dry, and slightly toasted. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Remove from heat.

Serve stewed tomatoes with a few croutons on top of each individual serving, and the rest of the croutons available in a small bowl to add as desired.

stewed-tomatoes-3.jpg

27 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Yummy! Brings me back to my childhood. Dad and I loved stewed tomatoes with a batch of Mom’s mac and cheese. A little mac a chees on the fork & a little stewed tomato and WOW!
    Love all your recipes – thx!

  2. MelBoe

    I grew up eating this, but my mom mixed untoasted bread into the tomatoes but no basil. We always made this with liver and onions (and mashed potatoes.) It is still one of my favorite meals. As for seeing it on menus, you have not traveled south enough. I find it down here quite often, usually on buffets.

  3. jane

    I grew up eating stewed tomatoes with cheese souffle with my family. I would put that meal on my list of comfort food with Shepherd’s Pie and split pea soup. I have never made the tomatoes and souffle dinner as an adult, but now I am inspired to make it. Thank you.

  4. Jee

    Elise,

    This made me think of a crouton I had a few months ago at a restaurant in Philadelphia. It was a ceasar salad with CREAM CHEESE CROUTONS and it was delicious!! However, I can’t find any recipes for cream cheese croutons – and was hoping you’d have some ideas about it. If you know anything, please let me know!! Thanks, :)

  5. Amy

    I almost lived on stewed tomatoes while in college. It had the “soft and warm” quality that I was often looking for in order to keep home-sickness and the bracing cold of Vermont winters at bay. My favorite accompaniment, however, was a nice boiled potato (it was New England, after all). Yummy! Can’t wait to try your version.

  6. Kristi

    Elise – looks like a winner! Stewed tomatoes are a staple on diner menus here in the northeast, but they are typically canned and so I rarely order them.

    Jee – I live in Philadelphia. Cream cheese croutons??!! Where did you have these, if I might ask??????

  7. Xanthippe

    You’ve dished up a tasty childhood memory for many of us, Elise! I’m another reader with nostalgic remembrances of my mama’s stewed tomatoes; hers were topped with toasted bread crumbs, but otherwise identical to the recipe posted (including the basil). Thank you for the reminder that oftentimes, home-cooked, with love, is best.

  8. Donna A.

    When I get a lot of vine ripen tomatoes. I put chopped green peppers, chopped onions and garlic with the tomatoes, which I have cut up into 1/8ths. Add about 2 cups or more of chicken broth. Let it all boil for awhile. Top it with cheese of choice and serve with crackers or slice of home made bread.
    Donna A.

  9. James

    I love stewed tomatoes.
    in my house, my mom always served it on top of butter beans.

  10. Jee

    Kristi,

    I had them at *Washington Square* when I went there for the Restaurant Week earlier this year. (February, I believe?) I’ve never been back and don’t know if it’s a regular menu or if it was a special for Restaurant Week. You should definitely try it out if they still have it – !! Hope this helps. :)

  11. Jonathan

    This is for Jee, re: the cream cheese croutons. I found a recipe for Goat Cheese Croutons some time ago, and they turned out great. The two can be similar in texture, so maybe cream cheese could be swapped for the goat cheese? It’s worth trying, eh? You may need to up the ante on the seasoning (more salt?) and increase the flour by a little. Like any recipe, I believe it’s the quality of the ingredients that makes the difference. That said, I’d use the undisputed king of cream cheese, Philadelphia brand. I’d also make sure it’s at room temp for even blending. Experiment!

    From “The Goat Cheese Cookbook” by Laura Chenel and Linda Siegfried.
    2/3 cup flour
    3 tablespoons butter
    5 ounces chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
    1 egg white, lightly beaten
    Coarse sea salt

    In a medium bowl or food processor, combine flour, butter, and goat cheese into a smooth dough. Roll the mixture into logs (about as thick as a quarter coin). Refrigerate, wrapped in wax paper, for at least one hour or overnight.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the logs into coin shapes approximately 1/4-inch thick. Prick with a fork and brush with the egg white. Sprinkle lightly with the sea salt. Bake approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, cool, and serve.

  12. Jee

    Thanks Jonathan!!

    Can’t wait to try it out. :)

  13. Marie

    I grew up in the Midwest, but have never heard of anyone eating stewed tomatoes as a soup. But it looks so good I think I’ll try it this afternoon. Great photos.

  14. ashley

    Ooh great I stumbled upon this looking for the cream cheese crutons as well….i had them in philly at Washington Square (the stephen starr restaurant)and they were delicious. Im gonna try the goat cheese recipe…Thanx!

  15. donius

    I’ve been cooking this since I saw it when you first posted it. When I do, I usually make some wheat / cheddar / jalapeño grilled cheese sammiches (minus jalapeños for wimpy wife) for dipping.

    It makes me drool. Thanks for the recipe. :)

  16. LeeAnn

    Stewed tomatoes used to be on the menu at the GRUB STEAK (upscale restraurant) in Dayton OH. Since moving out of state, I haven’t been there recently.

  17. Jerry Skirvin

    Stewed Tomato’s are a staple in the South.
    They are served at many eating establishments.

  18. Dana

    Elise,

    If you ever make it to central Pennsylvania on a Friday during Lent, you may be interested to see that a number of restaurants (normally those off the beaten path) have baked haddock, mac and cheese, and, of course, a side of stewed tomatoes as their special. Having to replicate this meal for a friend who was coming to visit on a Friday, I came to your site to find inspiration–and wasn’t disappointed. Fantastic recipe! Thank you for posting all the wonderful dishes you come across.

    Dana

  19. linda

    This recipe looks fantastic! When I was in high school I worked in Ocean City, NJ at a little take-out place called Spence Seafood. They had great mac and cheese, which, on my lunch breaks, I always loved to pair with their great stewed tomatoes. I’ve been looking for a comparable stewed tomato recipe ever since. I’m excited to see this one! Thanks!

  20. Mom of 3

    I like mine with some red onion and bell pepper, it tastes like my great-grandma’s house in the height of summer. Farm fresh, South Jersey tomatoes and crusty bread dripping with butter. Yummy!!!
    Thanks for the memory jog!

  21. KAY

    Stewed tomatoes are a staple on the Michie Tavern menu in Charlottesville, VA. It’s the best cafeteria-style eating you’ll ever do!

  22. Mary

    I wanted to get a good recipe for stewed tomatoes which my mom use to make and the GRUB STEAK in Dayton does still serve them which I get everytime I go.

  23. Mo

    There was/is(?) a restaurant in Rome, GA that always had a huge black pot of stewed tomatoes with large pinto beans sitting on the self serve salad bar. Homemade croutons were on the side. A meal in itself. YUMMMMMM

    They also had a full “round” of “rat cheese” for you to cut off a chunk of too!

    Can’t seem to find a recipe like this. This recipe sounds like a good starting point.

  24. Becky Lohmoeller

    So glad to get a yummy recipe. I have had stewed tomatoes on a menu at Michie Tavern in Charlottesville, VA. They were yummy too! Thanks!

  25. Penny

    This was amazing! I can’t believe I discovered it toward the end of the season. I’ll never have extra tomatoes again…simple, easy and delicious!

  26. Christine

    First time making stewed tomatoes! Topped it off with some freshly grated pecorino, with a side of fresh bread.

    Thanks for the good !!

  27. Cassandra

    Used part cherry, part large ripe tomatoes. With 4 tsp sugar the result was cloyingly sweet and inedible. If I make this again I’d not use any cherry toms and cut the sugar.

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