This crispy cheese and tomato potato bake is super easy to make. It's layered up with mature cheddar cheese, thinly sliced potatoes, and a rich tomato sauce - the perfect side dish.
This cheese and tomato potato bake is one of those recipes that's a winner on all levels. It's easy to make, it's kid-friendly and a real crowd-pleaser, it's cheesy and full of flavour, and it can be served with all sorts of things. If you're looking for a side dish for pretty much any meal - this cheese and tomato potato bake is probably it.
Tomato potato bake
I've had many a potato bake in my life - it's an easy way to turn a humble potato into a side dish with tons of flavour.
But I find potato bakes are usually creamy - think dauphinoise potatoes, that kind of thing. Don't get me wrong, I love creamy, cheesy potatoes, but sometimes I want a potato bake with a bit more substance.
This cheese and tomato potato bake is the answer. It's still cheesy and irresistible, but with a rich tomato sauce that lifts it a bit, and adds tons of flavour.
Rich tomato sauce
The recipe begins with the tomato sauce. I'm going to be totally honest: I used a jar of pasta sauce, jazzed up with a few extra ingredients. I feel no guilt whatsoever for this - it's an easy way to get lots of flavour into your sauce, and you can still customise it however you like.
If you're not a fan of shop-bought sauces, or you don't have one to hand, you can totally use a tin of chopped tomatoes or passata instead.
I also added garlic, onion, smoked paprika, dried herbs, and even some fresh cherry tomatoes. It's a really tasty sauce. I also added some grated carrot, since it's such an easy way to add some extra veg.
Layered potato bake
Once you've made your sauce, just layer it up with thinly sliced potatoes and grated cheese. I suppose it ends up being a bit like a potato lasagne, which can surely only be a good thing.
It doesn't really matter how many layers you end up with, as long as you alternate your potatoes, sauce and cheese over and over. I ended up with 4 layers in total, but you could make a larger, flatter version with only 3 layers, if that works better for you.
No pre-cooking necessary (unless you're in a rush!)
I didn't pre-cook my potatoes before adding them to the dish, because I'm lazy, and I'm always looking for short-cuts and ways to save energy (with two kids aged 3 and 1, energy isn't something I have in excess!).
It worked beautifully, but it did take a long time to bake - probably around an hour and a half. I imagine this is because of the acidic tomato sauce, which makes the potatoes slower to soften. It got there eventually, so you can totally do it this way if you've got the time - just make sure to cut your potatoes nice and thinly.
Or, if you're a bit more pushed for time, pre-boil the potatoes until they're just tender, then add them to the dish. You can then just cook the potato bake, uncovered, until it's hot and bubbly, and crispy on top.
I finished my potato bake with a crispy topping of grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and a few extra cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes roast in the oven (and we all now how incredible roasted tomatoes are), and the cheese and breadcrumbs become perfectly crispy and golden brown.
It's so satisfying pulling this bubbly dish out of the oven...
How to adapt this cheese and tomato potato bake recipe
As usual, you can totally make this tomato potato bake recipe your own. Feel free to adjust it however you see fit.
A few ideas:
- add extra veg to the sauce (it could be more like a ratatouille!)
- use mozzarella, goat's cheese, or any other cheese you fancy
- add red lentils to the sauce (simmer until they're cooked before layering)
- use half regular potatoes and half sweet potatoes
- give it a Tex-Mex twist with some chilli powder and a tin of black beans (then serve with avocado and sour cream!)
My only concern would be that if you mix up the recipe too much, it might get in the way of the potatoes cooking, so I'd probably go for the 'pre-boiled potatoes' option if you make any changes.
How to serve potato bake
There are all sorts of ways you could serve this cheese and tomato potato bake - it's a lovely versatile side dish. You'll probably want to serve it alongside some sort of protein element, plus some veg.
I served mine with some vegetarian meatballs and peas, which was perfect.
Cheese and Tomato Potato Bake
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 240 g carrots (~ 3 medium carrots), grated
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 500 ml (~ 2 cups) passata or tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree / paste
- 175 g (~ 1 ⅓ cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
- Black pepper
- 800 g (~ 28 oz) potatoes (~ 4 medium potatoes)
- 200 g mature cheddar cheese, grated (~ 2 cups when grated)
- 25 g (~ ⅓ cup) breadcrumbs (I used panko)
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, and add the grated carrot and diced onion. Cook over a medium heat for around 5 minutes, until fairly soft. Add the minced garlic, smoked paprika and dried herbs, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Next, add the tomato sauce, tomato puree and about two thirds of the cherry tomatoes (save some back for topping), along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a few minutes.
- Thinly slice the potatoes - I didn't bother peeling mine. If you're not planning to pre-boil the potatoes, make sure you don't cut them any thicker than a few millimetres. Or, if you want to cut them a bit thicker or you're pushed for time, pre-boil them until they're just tender.
- Add one spoonful of sauce to the bottom of a baking dish (mine measured 8 x 8 inches), and spread it around - this just stops the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the dish. If you have a dish with a lid, that's ideal.
- Now layer the sliced potatoes, tomato sauce and grated cheese - I ended up with 4 layers of each in total. Just make sure the potatoes are always laid out in a single layer, to help them cook through (less important if you've pre-boiled them).
- When you've used all the potatoes, finish with one final layer of tomato sauce, the last bit of grated cheese, and the breadcrumbs, as well as any cherry tomatoes you held back earlier.
- If you didn't pre-boil the potatoes, add a lid to the dish (or cover with kitchen foil, if you don't have a lid), and bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) until the potatoes are soft (check by poking with a sharp knife). Mine took around an hour and a half in total, but the exact time will depend on the exact thickness of your potatoes.
- If you did pre-boil the potatoes, you can cook your potato bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) without a lid, until golden brown and crispy - around 20-25 minutes.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.