OMG…best. Tomato. Thing. Ever.
Dear Kendra at My First Kitchen: You have created the tomato light of my life. Thank you. Never again will I doubt the humble tomato. You shall go to heaven dear friend, for spreading heaven on a plate to all others.
Maybe I should simply be frowned upon for having never tried the combination of creamy+tomato to make a sauce so good it makes you feel like fireworks are going off on every tastebud on your now joyous tongue. But anyway. This is definitely…one of those eye-popping moments of realisation where you fall in love with something so much you know the companies that make the ingredients shall never have debts again. I personally like tomatoes. I think they’re great. However, I’ve never had emancipating moments of bliss with them. So if you’re the kind of person who thinks tomatoes are “alright” or better, you will have a serious chance of touching heaven with this. It also has courgette in, but give it a chance even if you don’t like courgette – it’s the perfect thing to have layered in between this sauce, and if you’re not keen on the taste of them, don’t worry, because all you can really taste is gooey cheese and the amazing cacophany of perfection that is the tomato sauce. It was perfect for the cloudy summer day today was, and all the produce is in season and cheap.
I made a few tweaks, based on past love, and they are included in the recipe below. This is pretty much straight from Kendra’s recipe though, so full credit should really go to her *hugs*Tomato and courgette layer bake (with CHEESE!)
serves two (easily doubles though)
a little knob of butter (approx. size of a teaspoon), or cooking oil
1 large shallot or 2 small or 1/4 an onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
two hearty pinches dried oregano
optional: pinch garlic powder (if you’re a garlic fiend)
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes (use organic, they have a much more potent tomato flavour. If in NZ, I used Ceres and they were really nice and tangy)
3-5 Tbs cream, or sour cream, or softened cream cheese*, or garlic and onion dip (I used the dip…)
2 courgettes, sliced thin (2mm)
1/2c grated parmesan – use good stuff here, and don’t skimp!
1/2c grated cheese (mozzarella is best, but edam works well too)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
* if using cream cheese you may want to use an immersion blender or similar to ensure there aren’t too many lumps – unless you want lumps!
Melt butter in a saucepan on low heat, add shallots/onions with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring slightly, until shallots are soft. Add garlic and oregano, and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes and garlic powder, with another pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then add cream and stir to create a rich, pinkish sauce. Taste, further season if necessary, and bring to a simmer. As soon as it simmers you can turn off the heat, and set aside the sauce.
Preheat oven to 190C, with a rack arranged in the top third.
Now get out either 2-4 ramekins or a 20cm round deep baking dish. Layer sliced courgettes, then follow with salt and pepper, then some of the cheeses, then some of the tomato sauce. Continue layering until you’re out of ingredients. It doesn’t matter if you finish with courgettes or tomato, just make sure your top layer is cheese.
Place the dish in the oven, on the top third rack, and let it bubble away for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly golden and the sauce is bubbling away at the edges of the dish happily.
Serve it up, garnishing with some fresh basil or oregano leaves, and use some crusty bread to mop it up. It’s sort of soupy, but has lots of substance, and is just divine comfort food. Enjoy!!