When you think back on your life, and the things you’ve done, it’s amazing to realize how much information actually gets stored in your brain: song lyrics from those one-hit wonders in the 90’s, the names of people you haven’t spoken to since kindergarten, and the way to finish Super Mario Bros. 3 in under 20 minutes, which I mastered when I was 10.
Yet, the other day I tried to remember the name of an actress as I was watching her on TV, and my brain just couldn’t access the information I knew was in there. It’s so fascinating to me that I thought about getting a cognitive science degree in college. At least, I think I did. I can’t remember.
And just FYI, it was Elizabeth Banks whose name I couldn’t remember, despite my adoration for her. Idiot.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that your brain stores random memories for some reason, and today’s recipe is related to one of those. I remember it so vividly. I came home from school, this is maybe junior year of high school (Go Pirates!), and my mom was making a Sausage and Potato Pie that she found in some random cookbook, because it looked good. It smelled amazing, and was so delicious that between the two of us we ate most of it before my dad got home from work (sorry, Dad!).
I remember what it looked like, what it smelled like, what it tasted like, and yet this is the only time I ever had it. I’ve had the recipe with me for about 20 years, and I’ve never tried to make it myself. Maybe I thought it was too unhealthy, or maybe I didn’t want to ruin the memory. But now I have a blog so risks must be taken!
It turns out it’s not as unhealthy as I thought, because there are a lot of vegetables in it! At least that’s what I am telling myself.
It starts with sautéing some zucchini, red peppers, garlic, fresh and dried basil together.
Guilt free, so far.
Next you add the sausage. The recipe calls for Italian sausage, I used chicken Italian sausage, because, you know, I’m healthy…maybe healthy-adjacent.
While that is cooking it’s time to slice the potatoes.
Potatoes just get me.
Once the sausage mix is all cooked, it’s time to assemble the pie! It goes like this: a layer of potatoes, a layer of sausage/vegetable mix, and some cheese. I used an Italian cheese mix to keep with the theme, and parmesan. Lots of parmesan.
Look at that. You just know it’s going to be sinful…ly delicious. Repeat the layers again, finishing with potatoes on top.
Wrap it in foil and bake it for 40 minutes. Take the foil off and bake for another 10 minutes until the top layer is nice and crisp.
At least, that’s what you’re supposed to do, unless TRAGEDY STRIKES!
At this point, MY OVEN BREAKS. Just decides to stop heating up. Imagine the fury! After throwing a wine glass into a fireplace in rage (I like to think my life is a telenovela), I remember I have a toaster oven. Not ideal, but it’ll get the job done.
Assuming your oven doesn’t break, you will be left with a whole pie that looks something like this:
The good news is that it is delicious, filling, and totally amazing. The better news is that my childhood memory of it is still intact, and that I will totally make it again.
If my brain remembers how to do it.
SAUSAGE & POTATO PIE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 medium size potatoes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, Monterey Jack, or other combination of cheeses.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skilled over medium-high heat. Add peppers and zucchini, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic, pepper, fresh basil, and dried basil. Sauté 2 minutes more.
4. Add sausage, breaking up any clumps. Sauté until no longer pink. About 5 minutes.
5. Toss sliced potatoes in the other tablespoon of oil. Spread 1/3 of the potatoes over the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan, or a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking pan.
6. Spread half the sausage/vegetable mixture on top. Then add half of the cheeses.
7. Repeat layer one more time with another 1/3 potatoes, the rest of the sausage/vegetable mixture, and the rest of the cheese. Finish with a layer of potatoes on top.
8. Cover the pie with foil and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
9. Remove the foil, and bake another 5-10 minutes until potatoes are nice and crispy brown on top.
10. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
11. Eat and hope your brain remembers this delicious moment for the rest of your life.