Summer Garden Tomato Basil Bake

This recipe is a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I remember being so excited when my mom made it. Now that I have my own kitchen and my own budget, I am especially drawn to it for its frugality as well as fresh taste! When I was growing up, it was “Summer Tomato Lasagne”, and we always just used dried basil and garlic powder. I love the taste of fresh basil and garlic (and my basil is taking over my herb garden) so I decided to experiment a bit with using fresh herbs and spices instead. Using what is fresh, in-season, and virtually free from your garden always helps to cut back on expense!

This can be a lasagne, made with lasagne noodles, or you can use any kind of noodles you have available. Actually you could probably even use rice. We used gluten-free rice noodles, so really what’s the difference?  I used spiral noodles and layered them, because truthfully I cannot stand gluten-free lasagne noodles. Even the best brands just fall apart when pre-cooked, and I haven’t found any gluten-free noodles that I don’t have to boil ahead of time. If you aren’t eating gluten-free, you could just use some no-boil lasagne noodles!

Here’s my recipe. Trust me, the combination of flavors is fabulous! It’s the perfect casserole to make when your tomatoes are producing like crazy!

1) Peel, seed, and dice 8 large tomatoes (if you don’t have fresh, you can always use canned – approximately 3 pints of canned tomatoes). Actually for this recipe, I used half fresh and half canned, since some of my fresh tomatoes hadn’t quite ripened yet.

2) While you’re prepping your tomatoes, cook your pasta if necessary. You’ll need about 12 ounces of dry pasta.

3) Slice fresh basil into ribbons. I used 15-20 medium to large-sized leaves. You can use however much you want, depending on how much your family likes basil!

4) Combine tomatoes and basil, add the following, and mix well:

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 cloves of minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

4) Layer your casserole into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Start with pasta on the bottom, then tomato/basil mixture, then mozzarella cheese. Repeat 2-3 times. You can use as much or as little cheese as you want. I usually use between 8-12 ounces.

5) Bake, covered with foil, for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 minutes longer, until cheese is done to your taste.

Enjoy!

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