Potatoes and Peasant Food

Potatoes get a bad rap, but truly they are victims in this turn of events.  They can’t help it that we tend to slather them with fat and/or dunk them in hot grease and eat the least healthy versions of them (big and white) in large quantities.  While potatoes are high in carbohydrates, there is fiber in the skin, so if you eat small potatoes, you get more skin (fiber and nutrients) and less starchy insides.  And if you eat colored potatoes you are also getting carotenoids and flavonoids which are nutritious and act as anti-oxidants.

Unfortunately, the little colored potatoes are more costly than the big white ones… but they are worth investigating.  You might be very surprised at how much more flavorful a small colored potato is than a big white one.  Makes it easier to skip the sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, bacon….. oh my.  I used to like that kind of thing on a baked potato – but your family just might like these with a touch of healthy oil and spices.

The pretty little buggers can be boiled, or roasted, or baked just like any other potato.  One of my favorite ways to prepare them is a double cook: baked, boiled or even microwaved, and then sliced and sauteed with some onion, possibly some greens and if you want, you can even throw in some scrambled eggs or meat if you eat it.

We always ate this one night on camping or backpacking trips when I was a kid and it was dubbed ‘peasant food.’

Peasant food is another of the quick throw what you have in a skillet for dinner ‘recipes’ that Little Sis and I have come to rely on when planning is lacking or life doesn’t go along with our carefully laid plans.  Okay, so that’s almost everyday, and that is why we have more than one sneaky quick dinner on hand.

In order to make peasant food quickly you have to have already cooked potatoes.  If you are brilliantly organized you might cook some potatoes at the beginning of every week, just to have for emergencies…. or you might be like me and just wash them, slice them and throw them in the microwave to soften them up before sauteing.  It is much easier to slice a cold potato than a hot one, so if microwaving, it is important to slice first.  If baking or boiling for future use, it is not necessary to pre-slice.

After you’ve got some soft potatoes, you are only about 15 minutes away from a meal.

Saute some onion, scallions or leeks if you like them in a Tbsp or 2 of oil.  I used some leftover leeks from a previous dinner

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I’m not giving amounts because as I said, this is a fly-by-the-seat of your stovetop recipe… use what you got, or what you think is reasonable.

When the onion-y type stuff is getting translucent, add your potatoes along with some salt and pepper.  You can also add other spices if you like, I just relied on the flavor of the leeks, salt and pepper to improve the potatoes.

Cook over Medium heat until heated through and you have a little bit of browning action going on.

Throw in a couple of handfuls of any hardy greens you have around…. I used spinach…. you could try kale or swiss chard as well.

Cook until greens are wilted.

Now if you want to add scrambled eggs or chopped meat – I would add beaten eggs after the greens wilt, or meat when you add the potatoes.  We did not add anything but used the potatoes as a side dish.

P1010540-001Check out those gorgeous purple potatoes!!!  Hard to believe they are potatoes.  I may just have to take a stab at growing some of these bad boys this summer because they are really great.

Don’t get rid of potatoes…. just get rid of (or cut down on) french fries, chips and the fatty toppings.  What’s underneath is Food.  Real Food.

P1010541-001 Now excuse me while I go eat these beautiful purple potatoes.  Mmmm.

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Sweet Potato Be-Crusted Quiche & Apple Pie – GF, DF

Why didn’t I think of this?  Do you ever say that?  I say it a lot, but I guess it means that at least I recognize genius when I see it.  In this case, Claire at Just Blither Blather thoughtfully shared her brilliance with the rest of us, and from her Collard Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust, I thought that what is good for the quiche is good for the pie, right?

Well, I hope so.  I’m typing this while sweet potato be-crusted quiche and apple pie are filling the house with wonderful aromas.  I did not follow Claire’s quiche recipe to the letter simply because I didn’t have all of the same ingredients, but hers looked and sounded so fabulous I didn’t want to wait.  I did however follow the crust instructions, and that is the beauty part of this whole experiment because I can think of lots of things to put in this crust!

So check out her recipe for the quiche as well as mine….

Sweet Potato Crusted Apple Pie

Crust:
3 cups shredded sweet potato
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 375
Mix together ingredients and press into 9 – 10″ pie plate
Bake for 15 minutes

Filling:
4 apples, chopped into chunks
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Pour filling into crust
Cover loosely with aluminum foil
Bake at 375 for about 35 – 45 minutes.  Peek, smell and listen 😉

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So I started with dessert – it’s a plan that some people swear by….. but don’t worry – there is a main dish as well.

Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche
Crust:
3 cups shredded sweet potato (I used the food processor)
A drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix sweet potato and a little olive oil and press into a 9 – 10″ pie plate
Bake for 15 minutes

Filling:
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
oil for saute
2 cups of vegetable of choice (I used shredded broccoli stem – yes I am that cheap- and some leeks)
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs
Splash of water
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent
Add the other veggies you are using and cook til a little tender
Add salt and pepper to taste
Claire used collards which sounds lovely, but I didn’t have any greens available, so I just went with the other veggies.  Use what you like or what yo know your family will eat!
Place veggies in crust after it comes out of the oven
Beat the eggs and splash of water together and pour over veggies
Bake at 375 for 35 – 45 minutes or until set.

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Now we have eaten both of these ‘pies’ and they were both delicious! The pie is (as seems to be the case with my gluten free pie attempts), more of an inverted cobbler, but it is a very tasty inverted cobbler!  The sweet potato gets a bit chewy and crispy along the edges but it can’t hold a wedge together.  We didn’t mind.  The quiche holds together nicely.  It was a delicious meal with extra veggies at the bottom!

Lettuce and Eggs? You’ll be Glad You Did

Sam I am would be delighted to eat this ‘Green Casserole’.  The eggs aren’t green, but there is enough green stuff in there that they might as well be.  This dish comes out seeming very refined somehow, and yet it is easy and very tasty.  Sort of a savory vegetable tart.

I gently changed the Green Vegetable Casserole recipe found in “Healing Psoriasis” by John Pagano.  It is a very adaptable recipe to whatever greens you have around, but the surprising thing to me was the inclusion of romaine lettuce in a dish that you bake.  I was dubious, but it is really tasty and the romaine holds up well.

Personally, I think leeks are a centerpiece of this dish, but you can try it with any combo of greens, other than tender lettuce, you like. Continue reading

That’s Company Good

Over the years of fiddling in the kitchen, my husband and I have developed a rating system for our creations that ranges from “Hmm, I thought that would work” to “That’s company good.”  In between there are categories like “has potential,” “needs tweaking,” “good kid food,” and “dinner with close friends.”  Well last night, I cooked for about 25 minutes and still scored a rating of “company good.”  The fact that garden vegetables were featured just made the victory that much sweeter.  So for your late spring dining pleasure, I offer you….. Company Good Pea Soup with Crispy Leeks.

Now before all of you pea shunners shrug and click somewhere else, I should tell you that my husband is new to enjoying peas.  Apparently his childhood reaction to the little round greenies was rather on the high side of drama, and yet, when I discovered that the kids would eat ANY kind of peas, he decided to give them another go.  It seems to me that he mostly tolerated cooked frozen peas, and put a good face on it to be a role model.  But when we had pea success in the garden, his love affair with peas truly began.  This soup uses both frozen and fresh peas to the best advantage of each, in my opinion.  If you are not a pea fan, I would encourage you to try them fresh.  It’s a whole different ball of yum.  If you’re already a pea fan, this soup will make you appreciate them all the more.  So here we go……

Company Good Pea Soup with Crispy Leeks – served four for dinner (with enough leftover for lunch for four) with bread and salad

  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 leek
  • 6 c veggie broth
  • 5 c frozen peas
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper (I used white to hide it)
  • 1 t thyme
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • shelled fresh peas (I started with about 4 handfuls fresh, but you can just use however many you can get your hands on)

Let’s start with the Crispy Leeks.  Cut the stiff green and the root end off the leek (save for future broth).  Using the white and some of the light green part of the leek, cut the leek in half the long way and then in half again, you should have what looks like long pickle spears.  Place the leek into a bowl of water and swish them around (leeks tend to hide dirt between the layers).  Pour glug of olive oil into pan and warm on low.  While oil is warming, remove leeks from water and cut into about 1/2 inch pieces (no, I didn’t measure and never will, so there).  Add leeks to pan.  Proceed to largely neglect them for about 20 minutes, stirring periodically. This should be about how long you need to make the soup. They will begin to brown, and this is GOOD. Do not become alarmed. Reduce the heat a bit and keep an eye on them. You want to brown them as much as you can without burning them. If using cast iron, you can turn the pan off when you’re getting close and just let them sit in the pan to finish up.

OK, so while your leeks are browning…  The SOUP!!!  Pour half of the veggie broth in a blender.  Add the frozen peas and go to it.  If your blender doesn’t like dealing with the frozen peas, add more of the broth.  When blended, pour into a pot and add remaining broth, salt, pepper and thyme.   Warm soup over medium heat (and don’t forget to stir your leeks).  When warm and your leeks are browned as you would like, add juice of 1/2 lemon.  Stir.  Serve in bowls, adding a handful of fresh peas and a spoonful of crispy leeks.  The fresh peas will barely cook (my limit on cooking for most fresh veggies) and will add just the right crisp bite to the velvety soup.  Delish.  That’s company good.

Garden leftovers

Gardening is work.  There is no denying that.  It does however, in my humble opinion, beat the HELL out of cleaning bathrooms.  I much prefer the smell of soil and the smell of the different plants and leaves to the smell of bad male aim, if you take my meaning.  When we lived in the country, I did solve bathroom problems and garden problems by having my husband pee around the perimeter of the gardens at night.  This is very effective rabbit repellent and probably provides some nitrogen to the soil as well!

At any rate… back to gardening as work.  What an utter joy to come out to find little gems in the early spring garden that are leftover from last year!  We did have a mild winter (even for us) here in middle TN and I have 2 bunches of swiss chard that are growing – one green and one red.  I also cut back some kale that was still growing about 2 weeks ago and I’ll be able to harvest a stir fry or kale chips recipe in a few days.  And last but not least, leeks!  Lovely, luscious, expensive leeks are growing in my garden!  I tried to start them from seed in the garden in several spots last summer and got nothing.  Not a peep!  But – one row that I planted in the fall started to come up just as it was getting cold and I thought they’d freeze.  Well those hardy onion cousins are standing straight and about 8″ tall.  Can’t wait to sautee, stir fry and make the crunchy leeks litlsis has been raving about.  Joy!