Quarantine Kitchen: A crowd-pleasing tomato casserole

By on December 21, 2020

This year has been full of unprecedented times and situations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families and individuals will be cooking at home this holiday season. That’s why we are bringing the dishes to you all month long in our Quarantine Kitchen series. We talked to twenty-three chefs who willingly shared some of their favorite dishes to prepare for the holidays. Stay tuned Dec. 1 through 24 on the blog as well as our social media channels for a new dish to feature in your home each day and let’s get cooking!

For those who work for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services it is a well known fact that Chief of Staff Zane Hedgecock is not only great at his job with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but that he also is quite the accomplished chef. Most years, he plans and prepares a Christmas meal for executive staff and his team.

It is always one of the most anticipate meals and staff wait to see the menu to see if our favorites will make the list. Tomato Casserole is always at the top of this list. This year, the Christmas lunch was unable to happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Chef Zane was happy to share his tomato casserole recipe for all those who want to try it for themselves.

As it’s biggest fan, it will be sure to be part of my family’s Christmas Day brunch.

Hedgecock has been making his tomato casserole for years using all the elements of a tomato sandwich and more baked into juicy, cheesy goodness. He even uses his family’s homemade ingredients for a little added North Carolina charm.

Don’t worry about specific measurements — you can vary the amounts of each ingredient to your liking. Rest assured, Chef Zane said, you can’t mess up as long as you don’t overcook it!

Zane’s Tomato Casserole

  • Thin slices of any type of soft bread
  • Cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cream cheese
  • Duke’s Mayonnaise
  • Soft breadcrumbs from a sweet bread

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease the bottom and sides of a casserole dish. Line the bottom of pan with slices of bread. (I use my mother’s made-to-order sourdough bread.) Next, add a light layer of cheddar cheese.

Then, two layers of sliced tomatoes and salt & pepper to taste. On top of the tomatoes, add on dots of cream cheese and another light layer of cheddar. Place in the oven until the cheese is melted — not toasted — and the tomatoes are soft. After it has been in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, in a separate bowl, lightly fold together breadcrumbs (I prefer to use crumbs from the same sourdough), shredded cheddar and Duke’s Mayonnaise — heavy on the mayo. Do not over-mix or mush together. Then, add the breadcrumb mixture to the top of the heated casserole, return to the 350-degree oven and watch closely! Remove from the oven once the cheese has melted a little but before the mayonnaise melts, roughly about 5 to 10 minutes.

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