Layered Baked Things are Good

It's true, layered baked things are just good. Lasagna, chocolate cake....what more can I say? If you use good ingredients, layer them, and bake, it's bound to taste delicious even if it doesn't look that great. Oh yeah, a little cheese on top never hurts.

Here's an example - a mostly locavore one - that I made recently.

Ah, tomatoes! It's been a nice warm September and the tomatoes have just kept coming. That's good, since it was so cool earlier in the summer and it seemed to take forever for them to really start going. These are mostly Amish paste tomatoes from our backyard (the lucky few who survived the black walnut), and an heirloom or two that I got from Blue Skies Farm in Oregon. That's Oregon the town, not the state....

All these tomatoes were just begging to be made into a fresh sauce. I'm not one to peel anything if I can help it - I really don't mind a little peel in my sauce. I simply quartered the tomatoes and cooked them down in a saucepan.

I added a bunch of fresh basil from the backyard to the tomatoes....

.... a delicious tomato sauce, just as easy as that. I added a little salt and simmered it for an hour or so to thicken it.

Meanwhile, I got the other veggies ready. Eggplants from the garden, garlic and shallots from the farmer's market.

I sliced the veggies and doused them with olive oil. They made the first layer in the bottom of a big glass baking dish.

Then came a little sauce, and then some breadcrumbs. (not fancy breadcrumbs, just two old heels from an extremely stale loaf of sourdough that had been sitting around for way too long.)

Then came a little more sauce, and some local Italian sausage that I cooked up with a little leftover zucchini.

The rest of the sauce.....

Don't forget the cheese on top! I used mozzarella and Parmesan.

It went in a 375 degree oven till it was bubbling hot. That's it!

Let me repeat - layered baked things are good - especially when you put cheese on top.

My Recipe for Baked Layered Things

Marinara sauce - if it's in season, make it fresh! You could also use pesto or white sauce if you're feeling fancy.
Vegetables - Eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, or whatever you like.
Bread crumbs - These are good, but optional.
Ground meat - sausage, ground beef.....
Cheese - something that melts well.

Pre-cook any ingredients that you want to be well cooked (meat, potatoes, etc.) Put a small layer of sauce or oil on the bottom of a large baking pan. Layer the vegetables on. Top that with sauce, then breadcrumbs, then sauce, then meat, then sauce, then cheese. You can do more than one layer of any of the items if you like. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, until it's bubbly hot. Enjoy, and don't worry if it falls apart when you scoop it out - it will taste delicious!
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