Friday, August 31, 2007

Only 3 hours, 30 minutes to go!

This week, even though I wasn't sure if I needed it to fulfill my challenge, I went to the Denver Downs farmer's market. They also had SC certified produce. I picked up a couple of big tomatoes, some raw peanuts, and some...get this...sun dried tomatoes....yum!!

With the big tomatoes, I made the Herb Stuffed Tomtoes from Giada. I served it with cedar planked salmon and this meal went great together. Easy to put together, and tasty, I would definately make this again if I ever have a lot of big tomatoes to use up.
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I bought the peanuts for Mark. I was hoping he would "parch" (roast) them. With the football games this weekend, I thought this would be great football food. Mark decided he would rather boil them. To do so, you basically boil the peanuts for 2 hours with 2 TB salt. Taste periodically and add salt as needed. Yuck, I hate boiled peanuts. They taste like squash.
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Sun dried tomatoes are one of Mark's favorite things...along with angel hair pasta and goat cheese. I saw a recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese, also from Everyday Italian and I knew I would make it for my dear husband. These fresh sun-dried tomatoes seems like the perfect excuse.
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Mark is waiting for the computer. I will announce the September challenge later, I guess.

Kerri's Greatest Hits

Can I post one more today? It's Friday and the end of the month and this one isn't necessarily farmer's market inspired but a great find that I thought I would share. When I left Texas, Kerri provided me with a binder of her most cherished recipes ... several of which I had sampled from our Sunday night dinner get-togethers. I don't know why it took me so long to try this one out. Probably, because the name alone is scary ... Risotto with Shrimp and Coconut Milk. Try passing off "risotto" made with coconut milk to an Italian husband ... still I was curious. This was a really great dish and easy to have ingredients on hand. It has a lot of different tastes going on with the coconut milk, tarragon, and fennel seeds. I wish I had a picture of it. Halfway through the dish, I had a bad feeling that it wasn't going to be what I expected ... but in the end, it came together and had a wonderful flavor.

Risotto with Shrimp and Coconut Milk (From Boston chef Didi Emmons of the Delux Cafe)

8 oz. small raw shrimp, peeled (shells reserved) and deveined
5 c. chicken broth, heated
2 T. vegetable oil
1 c. finely chopped onion ( I used a couple of shallots)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed or finely chopped
1/2 t. fennel seed
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 t. dried tarragon leaves
2 small plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 c. unsweetened cocount milk
1/4 c. chopped scallions
juice of 1 lime, about 2 T.
freshly ground pepper

1. Combine the shrimp shells with the broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Strain broth and return it to the saucepan. Reheat the broth before adding it to the risotto. Discard the shells. Don't skip this stage it really does give the broth a shrimpy flavor.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy 4 qt. pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seed and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 2-3 minutes ( I would say maybe 8 minutes on a lower heat). Be careful not to brown it ... cook it gently. Stir in the rice to coat the grains with the remaining oil and onion mixture and cook about 1 minute longer.

3. Add the wine, tarragon, and tomatoes and stir until the wine is mostly absorbed by the rice. Add the coconut milk (I just used the whole can) and continue to cook, stirring until the milk is mostly absorbed by the rice. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Reserve 1/4 cup of broth to add at the end. When the rice has been cooking for 15 minutes (tender but still quite firm), add the shrimp.

4. When the rice is tender, about 5 minutes longer, turn off the heat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup broth, the scallion, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6

Fresh Tomato Lasagna ... CL "oldie but goodie"

This Fresh Tomato Lasagna is a wonderful way to use garden tomatoes if you have a lot of them. This week when I made this dish, I subbed cottage cheese for ricotta and added an egg to hold it together ... just to lighten it a bit. Also, I used no boil lasagna noodles and added a little extra water to the sauce for the noodles to soak up. I always halve this recipe and use an 8x8 metal baking dish. This is a little labor intensive with the fresh tomatoes but a very fresh tasting, light lasagna as there is only 1 cheese layer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Summer Garden Tortelloni from Aug '07 Gourmet

While in the States, I picked up a Gourmet magazine. I didn't find a lot of inspiration in this edition but tried the Summer Garden Tortelloni. It was really light and fresh tasting and came together quickly ... perfect for a summer evening. Sorry, for the lack of pictures lately. Our hard drive is kaput and I've been instructed to not access the drive until we get our new one. Please say a quick prayer that our 16,000+ pictures survive the transfer ....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Produce Patch

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Last week, I met my husband in Wahalla, SC for lunch at the Steakhouse Cafe. They have the best fried chicken ever. Anyways, I stopped at their produce stand to pick up the week's produce. This one was a little different from the other ones I had been to in the fact that it was a "certified SC produce stand" with "certified SC produce". Good to know.

I picked up vidalia onions (ok, from Georgia, but it is the next state down), SC certified sweet potatoes, and SC certified lemons. I had no idea they grew lemons in SC, or that they were in season, but there they were.

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The first thing I made was the Vidalia Onion Risotto with Feta Cheese from Cooking Light. I have made this before with Texas 1015 onions, but this was the first time I made it with the real thing. I forgot to take a picture. I hadn't make a risotto in awhile, I guess I am worried that it is too much work...all that stirring...but it was very relaxing.

With the sweet potatoes I made my favorite Sweet Potato And Ginger Salad. This is such a great salad. I like to serve with with BBQ. The freshness of this salad balances out the heaviness of the BBQ. Next time I make it, I am going to use red onions instead of green and use it for tailgating at Clemson games. I took a picture, but it did not come out. Here is the recipe:

(Everyday Food; June 2005) Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes Total time: 45 minutes

1. Preheat oven to 425. On a nonstick rimmed baking sheet toss 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut into 3/4" chunks, with one Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp. coarse salt, and 1/4 tsp ground pepper; roast until fork tender, about 35 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsps. fresh orange juice, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, and 2 tsps. Dijon mustard.

3. Add 3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise, and potatoes; toss to coat with dressing. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

I intended just to use the lemons for my tea or for little things, but the Glazed Lemon-Buttermilk Cake from Cooking Light had gotten some good reviews and decided to give it a try. Mine came out pretty dense, but the glaze really brings the lemon home. It is very good in the morning with coffee.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A great side dish ...Baked Couscous with Summer Squash and Herbs

Looking for a great way to use that summer squash? We tried this side last night and ate the whole casserole between the two of us (well, our 11 month old had her fair share as well). I should mention that I used a real egg instead of egg substitute and probably double the amount of cheese, which I subbed mozzarella for fontina.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pendleton Farmers Market

Gosh, I really hate to move that yummy looking tomato tart down, but I am going to start cooking for next week tomorrow and need to post about last week.

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Last Thursday, I went to the Pendleton Farmers Market that is held in the town square every Thursday from 4-6. I love Pendleton, and I had gone to a market in June and had a great time. Boy, what a different 20 degrees makes. We are in the middle of a heat wave and I think it is keeping both vendors and customers away. There really wasn't a lot of good looking produce, except tomatoes:

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I bought a few Big Boys to add to the ones from my garden to make that fresh tomato sauce Lindsey posted earlier this month. That recipe was a real hit! For the rest of my shopping, I kind of cheated on my challenge. Well, lets say improvised. I bought pepper crusted goat cheese from a local farm. Mmmmmm, goat cheese.

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Some homemade oatmeal and fresh bread made by one of the vendors.

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Hopefully, this week will be better...

Rustic Tomato Basil Tart

Well, I'm back and ready to start cooking. Saturday, I stopped by my favorite Berlin farmers market and loaded up on some great tasting beefsteak tomatoes. This recipe comes from Cooking Light July 2003 and I've saved it and made it several times every summer since then. The cornmeal crust is really good.

Click here for the recipe ...

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Summer Mediterranean Supper Salad

In keeping with the Market theme I made this excellent salad tonight. It's very fresh tasting and takes full advantage of the summer bounty. I got the recipe off the Splendid Table website.

My camera battery is dead so no pictures but it was pretty!

A Summer Mediterranean Supper Salad
Copyright 2007 Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers

* 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
* About 4 cups ice water
* About 4 cups (1/2 loaf) leftover coarse, chewy country bread cut into 1-inch pieces
* 7 tablespoons wine vinegar and more as needed
* 1 cup cold water
* 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (you won't taste them but they deepen and enrich the salad
* 1 small clove garlic, minced
* 1 small stalk celery with leaves, thinly sliced
* 2 sweet yellow peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
* 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
* 2 1/2 pounds ripe, delicious-tasting tomatoes, cut into wedges
* Handful sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
* About 18 fresh basil leaves
* 1 medium-hot fresh chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
* 12 pitted Kalamata olives
* 3 whole scallions
* 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
* 6 or so fresh mint leaves
* 3 to 5 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, cover onions with the ice water. Put bread in medium bowl, tossing with 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and the 1/2 cup water. Add more water if you think the bread needs it to be thoroughly moistened. Set aside while you prepare everything else.

2. In a large bowl, mash anchovy, garlic, and remaining 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Let them stand about 10 minutes (this mutes the anchovy). Add the celery, peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, and peas.

3. Set aside a few whole herb leaves, then finely chop the rest with the garlic, chile (if using), olives, scallions, and capers. Add these to the bowl. Drain the onions and toss them into the bowl.

4. Squeeze the bread dry. Fold it gently into the salad along with the olive oil and cheese. Taste the salad for seasoning, adding a little more vinegar if needed. Garnish with the herb leaves. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Redmond Boys

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Last week I went to another produce stand in Seneca, SC called Redmond Boys. It is a fairly new one and they have a very cheesy commercial that my mom hates. I got zucchini, squash, green beans, corn on the cob, and blackberries. Because of that hard Easter freeze, the blackberries are very expensive, but I got them for a dollar off if I promised to mention Redmond Boys in my blog. So, if you are in Seneca, go to Redmond Boys and mention this blog. It is on Cherry St, right off of downtown.

For the blackberries, I broke out my ice cream maker for the first time this summer to make Blackberry-Buttermilk Sherbet from the June 2007 Cooking Light. Wow, this turned out really tasty and rich. It almost was like there was chocolate in it. Gosh, I wish I could have had some the second night...but we had a power outage for 12 hours and I am pretty sure this didn't not survive the freeze-thaw.

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(sorry about the picture quality. I am still having trouble with this new camera)

Last night I used the corn to make a Fresh Corn Salad from the August 2007 Cooking Light. This dish was very easy to make and definitely tasted fresh. You don't cook the corn, which seems weird, but it really worked. I would make this again, but it seemed like it was missing something...some parsley maybe? I served this with hamburgers topped with fresh tomato salsa and baked sweet potato fries.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Moon over Gaffney

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You might be thinking that Georgia, with their "Peachtree City"s and their "Peachtree Lane"s is the peach capital of the world. That is not true. South Carolina produces more peaches per captia then Georgia and most of them come from Gaffney, SC. To celebrate this, the city of Gaffney shaped their water tower to look like a peach, complete with a crack that faces the interstate. Everyone calls it the "Moon over Gaffney".

See, bet you didn't know that. Bet you didn't really need to know it either. Anyways...

I am not a huge fan of peaches, probably because most of the peaches that I have had were the fake kind. For the sake of this challenge, I decided to give them a try. The problem that I ran into to is that over Easter weekend, there was a hard freeze which killed off most of the peach crop. The peaches that are left aren't very good, and they are very expensive. I didn't just taste one raw, but made a deep dish peach raspberry pie with my peaches.

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I actually used both raspberries and blueberries along with the peaches to make this pie. I added a little more sugar than the recipe called for because I don't think my peaches were ripe yet. The result was a beautiful and hearty dessert that was not to sweet, and was perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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And yes, Mark liked it!!

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Remedy for Homesickness

Frequently, I long for the abundance of Mexican food that Texas offered. Since I am homesick and up to my ears in tomatoes and jalepenos, I decided to make some salsa for a cookout we are having tomorrow. Though fresh salsa is great, I sometimes prefer to cook it (as in this case) to mellow and blend some of the flavors. Please forgive any estimations...I was winging it. Also, this made a quart! Most people don't need that much salsa at a time.

1 medium white onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalepenos, minced (this gave a good mild/medium heat level)
about 2 pounds tomatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsp lime juice
a handful or two of cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic, and peppers. When the onions have softened, add the tomatoes and about half a teaspoon of salt. Cook until the tomatoes release their juice and break down a little. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes or so. Stir in lime juice and cilantro and taste for salt and pepper. This will give a chunky salsa, but I prefer an even consistency, so I pureed it in a food processor (this is also great because you don't have to worry about chopping up the garlic or jalepenos finely). This is usually better if made a day ahead and refrigerated.

A girl from Ohio

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There are so many of these little produce stands in the area. I don't understand why there are so many here, but none at all in Dallas. The first one I went to is Kathy's produce. Like most stands, they have a mix of local foods with foods you can get anywhere. I looked for the signs labeled "SC" and bought some peaches, some okra, and a watermelon for James.

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Looks like James has some eating to do!

My mom is from Ohio, but makes the best southern fried okra. It is much better than what you can get at your standard "meat 'n threes" in the area. I decided to give it a try and served with with Crunchy Catfish (dip catfish fillets in egg wash, then dredge in a mixture of cracker crumbs, parm cheese, and greek seasoning. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes). To make delicious, crunchy and non-slimy okra, wash okra and cut of both ends. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle about a table spoon of flour over okra and mix. Beat one egg and drizzle over okra, mix. Add about 1/4 cup cornmeal, and mix again. Heat vegetable oil in skillet (cast iron works best, but I used just a stainless skillet) and add okra + salt and pepper. Fry until nicely browned and took me about 20 minutes. Remove from skillet onto paper towels, then serve.

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Monday, August 6, 2007


My basil plants were going crazy, so I decided it was time to make a batch of pesto.

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I really love pesto...not really sure why. I think it is just the fresh taste of the basil with the harsh flavors of the raw garlic. It doesn't make a real hearty or healthy meal, so I do a few things to make it a little better.

2 cups basil leaves (I often use half basil and half spinach, just to give it a little more of a nutritious kick)
the juice of 1 lemon
1-2 garlic gloves
handful of toasted pine nuts (this time I used pistachios, the didn't have any pine nuts at the store)
handful of grated parm cheese
salt and pepper

Combine above ingredients in food processor. Drizzle in olive oil while processing until desired consistency. Mix with cooked whole wheat pasta and a ladle full of cooking water. Sprinkle a handful or more of halved cherry or grape tomatoes and serve.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Two Unrelated Recipes

This week I made a couple of recipes using things from my garden.

RECIPE: Fresh Tomato Sauce (America's Test Kitchen-PBS)

To keep the garlic from burning, start the olive oil and garlic in a cold pan. Add a pinch of sugar to the cooked sauce if your tomatoes aren't as sweet as you'd like. If the sauce seems too thick, toss the sauce and pasta with a little reserved pasta cooking water to help spread the sauce evenly.

Makes 2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta

* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large), cored, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
* Table salt
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
* Ground black pepper

Stir oil and garlic together in large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if sauce begins to stick to bottom of pan, until thickened and chunky, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Sauce for the Freezer
For a taste of summer in the dead of winter, make a double batch of sauce and freeze half (or all) of it. Double the ingredients, increasing the cooking time to about 30 minutes. Cool the sauce completely. Transfer to a 2-cup freezer-safe container. Press a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce, cover, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight.

I doubled this, using 4 lbs of a combination of Better Boy and Roma tomatoes, which made 1 quart. It is delicious and I plan on freezing it for a night when we long for the summer pleasure of fresh-picked tomatoes and basil!

Bharwan Baingan (Stuffed Eggplant)

6-8 Japanese eggplant
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala (I prefer MDH brand)
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
olive oil for pan

Cut a slit down the length of each eggplant (but not all the way through). Mix spices together and sprinkle into the slit. Coat the bottom of a skillet lightly with oil and fry the eggplant until tender. Sprinkle any remaining seasoning over eggplant as they cook.

The garam masala and amchur should be readily available at any good Indian market (not in Omaha...we ordered ours online from Quality Spices. I've tried other garam masalas and they are too heavy on cinnamon for my taste. I think this would be a great way to prepare many other vegetables, especially zucchini...a quick way to Indianize any veggie side dish!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Grilled Red Pepper and Zucchini Fattoush

Zucchini are in season and abundant! I love this salad. I've made it three times and can now "free-style" Fattoush.It tastes so healthy and fresh. The recipe is from the July issue of Bon Appetit. I added an additional zucchini to mine. I think I may try Japanese eggplant next time.

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Fattoush is a Middle Eastern take on panzanella, Italian bread salad. In fact, rustic Italian bread is a good alternative to the pita.

On the grill
3 medium orange or red bell peppers (about 1 pound), stemmed, seeded, quartered
4 to 5 slender zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise in half
2 (5- to 6-inch) pita breads, each cut horizontally into 2 disks, or two 6x4x1/2-inch slices country white bread
Olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish
1 (8-ounce) cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
12 cherry tomatoes, each halved
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup (scant) pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 4-ounce piece feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (scant 1 cup)
Ground sumac* (optional)

*A fruity, tangy seasoning powder made from ground dried sumac berries; available at Middle Eastern markets and from

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Brush peppers, zucchini, and bread on both sides with oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grill peppers and zucchini until slightly charred and just tender, turning often, about 6 minutes. Transfer vegetables to foil-lined baking sheet. Grill bread until lightly charred and just crisp, turning often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sheet with vegetables and cool. Tear bread into 1-inch pieces. DO AHEAD Vegetables and bread can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Cut peppers lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut zucchini lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, olives, mint, and cilantro and toss to combine. Add bread pieces. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, and cumin in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Add feta and gently mix into salad.

Transfer salad to large bowl. Serve, passing ground sumac for sprinkling over, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Bon App├ętit
July 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

August Challenge

A little background. I'm a planner. I like to plan. Every week I like to sit down with my cookbooks and plan what I am going to cook. Then I make my lists, organize my coupons, and off I go to the store. Unfortunately, this does not leave a lot of wiggly room for wonderful, fresh looking produce once I get there. That would require new menus, lists, get the idea. I try using the ads to see what is on sale and in season, but that is not always a foolproof method. My challenge for this month is to go to a produce stand or farmers market, buy at least 3 items, and use them. When buying things willy-nilly like this, I tend to let things set in my fridge until they rot. But this time I will try to use them in recipes, I might add a new veggie in our salad, or different fruits for snack, but the point is to enjoy FRESH and LOCAL food.

Anything FRESH and LOCAL counts, whether it be from a roadside stand, a market, the grocery store, or your garden. Right now, we are up in our ears in tomatoes. I'll start with a great little casserole that is about as far away from Pad Thai as you can get.

Tomato Casserole
tomatoes, peeled and sliced. Yes, I said PEELED.
cheddar cheese
bread crumbs (ok, I used PANKO, can I still be a red neck?)

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle a bit of bread crumbs to cover. Layer tomatoes over bottom of dish and sprinkle a handful of cheese and then a handful of bread crumbs over the tomatoes. Repeat until you run out of tomatoes or reach the top of the dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Boy howdy, this is good stuff, although definitely not light.