pesto potato bake: welcome, here’s a casserole.

Hello–and welcome to Hunting and Bargaining!

As students, adventurous cooks, and vegetarian/”flexi” tarians (I don’t know if I can ever not eat chicken!), we hope to write about our adventures “hunting and gathering” food in our twenties–food that tastes good, is healthy, has variety, and doesn’t break the bank. No ramen allowed, of course.

And with that, my first foray into broadcasting my kitchen adventures begins with a casserole: the perfect “welcome home” food, comfort food, I-know-you’re -sick -and-here’s sustenance food.

But do all casseroles have to be calorie-laden cream of mushroom/chicken concoctions? Of course not. Add starch + veggies + some type of sauce + cheese = casserole. That’s it.

BY FAR the best investment my kitchen this summer are my $3.00 basil and cilantro plants. I’m obsessed with putting fresh herbs on EVERYTHING–my wraps for lunch, pasta, chips, etc. Think about it–it usually costs $3.00 at least to buy a package of fresh herbs in the grocery store – for the same $3, I’m enjoying flavorful freshness all summer. I make this “Beggar’s Pesto” with my basil plant – but I wanted to use the pesto on something different than pasta. The pesto potato bake was born.

PESTO POTATO BAKE

HUNT AND GATHER:

2 large russet potatoes

1/2 vidalia onion

1/2 green peper

handful of fresh spinach

1 batch Beggar’s pesto

cheese

salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Make the pesto first and set it aside. Wash and slice the potatoes thin, like you’re making scalloped potatoes for a big family dinner. Chop up the onion and green pepper (or whatever other veggies you desire!) roughly. Then –  make a “potato parfait”! Lay one thin layer of the potatoes over the bottom of the dish (I used a small round one); then add some onion and pepper. Next, layer a few spoonfuls of pesto over the veggies. Then add another layer of potatoes, the spinach, and more pesto. Repeat until the dish is full! Top with shredded cheese. (one way to cut calories and add flavor – cut the cheese from the inside of the recipe and only top the casserole with cheese!) Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are not crunchy.

Serves 4 – or is the perfect recipe for packaging up in individual portions and freezing for later!

-m

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