Tuesday, April 12, 2011

0 Recipe #260: Feta-Potato-Leek Casserole with Fresh Greens

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This was tonight's dinner. If you like baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, then you'll probably enjoy this recipe. The concept is very similar. :)

Feta-Potato-Leek Casserole with Fresh Greens

2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 6 large potatoes) (makes about 6 c. sliced)
8 c. lightly salted water (for boiling the potatoes)
1/2 c. scallions, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 4 large scallions)
1/3 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced and densely packed
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced and densely packed
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely minced and densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram leaves, finely minced and densely packed
2 c. (1 lb.) nonfat feta cheese, crumbled
2 c. low-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. leeks (white parts only), finely minced and densely packed (about 2 large leeks)
1/3 c. shallots, peeled and finely minced (about 2 medium-sized shallots)
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
2 c. fresh, uncooked baby spinach leaves, densely packed (about 3 oz. spinach, or 1/2 of a 6 oz. bag)
2 c. fresh, uncooked kale, roughly chopped and densely packed
1/2 c. low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
2 c. fresh, uncooked broccoli florets and stalks, leaves pruned (from the stalks) and divided into bite-sized pieces (1 large broccoli "branch")
1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. paprika

Directions:  Bring a large pot of 8 c. lightly salted water to a rolling boil, about 8 minutes. Cover with a lid to boil faster. (The water should cover potatoes by at least an inch; so, if necessary, adjust the water amount according to the depth/dimensions of the pot.) Add potato slices, and continue to boil for about 15 minutes, or until almost tender. IMPORTANT: When ready, the vegetables should still be somewhat firm & slightly undercooked; since you'll be baking them later, you don't want them to be completely cooked all the way through at this point.

While potatoes are boiling, prepare the remaining ingredients: In one bowl, mix together the scallions and all of the fresh herbs, and in another separate bowl, the crumbled feta and shredded mozzarella. Set both bowls aside.

In a large (12-13”) sauté pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil until glistening. Add leeks, shallots, and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes on low heat, until softened. Deglaze with chicken (or vegetable) stock, stirring a bit to loosen and break up the fond (i.e., the brown bits) on the bottom and sides of the pan. Then, immediately add spinach and kale, cover with lid, and steam for 2-3 minutes, or until liquid's volume has been reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Potatoes should be close to being done by now: Drain potatoes into a heat-proof colander, and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes. Place about 1/2 of the potato slices (i.e., 3 c.) in a single layer across the bottom of a 9" x 13" glass casserole dish that's been lightly brushed with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Transfer the entire contents of the sauté pan (including the remaining liquid) to the casserole dish, placing them across in a single layer. (Do NOT drain first before transferring to the casserole dish, as the liquid will keep the ingredients from burning and help the flavors meld together.) Season with black pepper. Next, add the entire amount of (uncooked) broccoli florets and stalks, spreading the mixture across the dish in a single layer, followed by a layer of (half of the) scallions and fresh herbs mixture. Evenly sprinkle 2 c. of the feta-mozzarella cheese mixture in a light layer across the top, followed by another single layer of the remaining potatoes, a layer of the remaining scallions and fresh herbs mixture, and then finally, the remaining (2 c.) feta-mozzarella cheese mixture. Carefully mold all ingredients into the casserole dish, rearranging any ingredients on the surface to fill in any holes, and then press down lightly so that the ingredients are evenly distributed across the dish. Top with with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, and then generously sprinkle with paprika. Bake, covered with aluminium foil, in a preheated 375ºF oven for about an hour, then remove foil, and bake for an addition 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Yield: Makes about 12 square portions, about 3 square inches per person.

Chef's Notes: The feta cheese in this dish provides enough salt, so no additional salt is needed.

Variations: Substitute 2 c. cauliflower, or a combination of 1 c. cauliflower + 1 c. broccoli for the 2 c. broccoli. As another idea, you could also add a 1/2 c. pitted, sliced Kalamata olives.

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