We are frequent patrons of craft beer bars. What that entails, aside from the potential of beer bellies, is leftover French fries. They are such a ubiquitous side dish at pubs and bars they are difficult to avoid. We usually try to limit our fat intake by one of us subbing the fries with a side salad and sharing the two sides, but subbing isn’t always possible. (We don’t always behave rationally, either, lol.) Anyhow, I often have leftover fries in the fridge. I could crisp them up in the toaster, but reheated fries are never as good as right out of the frier. Enters tortilla Española.
Authentic recipes slow-cook sliced potatoes in olive oil, which gives the potato tortilla a beautifully creamy texture and satisfying heft. This version with French fries has a less creamy, fluffier texture, but the richness of the fries does make for an easy yet indulgent breakfast. I usually use onion, but here, I’m using two onion relatives, leek and shallot, for an extra flavorful twist.
DASH Meal: Tortilla Española with Leek & Shallot
DASH considerations: Tortilla Española with leek and shallot is on the indulgent side. Pair it with a side of cut-up vegetable or fruit to balance out the higher fat content, and go easy on oil for other meals of the day. In summer, this would make an awesome lunch with chilled gazpacho and a hunk of country bread.
1.5 vegetables & fruits (2 if you count fries as a vegetable serving...)
1 meats & fish
1.5 fat & oil
Preheat the oven (I use a toaster oven) to 400 F.
In an oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat.
Add the leek and shallot and sauté until they are translucent throughout and brown on the edges.
Add the French fries and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Scrape the thyme leaves off the stem and add them to the skillet. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Give it a good stir to combine with the other ingredients.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the egg is set. (This happens pretty fast in my little toaster oven; it may take longer in a full-sized oven.)
We had this allium-packed tortilla Española with a cheese-topped toast and apple for a filling breakfast.
Make this hearty chowder when you end up with a giant head of cauliflower that doesn’t fit in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with, like I did. Cauliflower replaces the potatoes that typically show up in chowders, and it does a surprisingly good job of substituting them. Garlic, thyme and just one strip of bacon give the cod chowder the savory, aromatic backbone it needs. I skipped making the bechamel and left the chowder more on the soupy side, but you can add that at the end if you prefer a thicker chowder.
This may be a weekend meal–it does take a fair amount of chopping, and the somewhat active cooking time is on the long side. The good news is that the chowder will be even better after it sits in the fridge overnight. I made a big pot and plan to eat the rest later in the week.
Serve it with some crusty bread. Go ahead and add an ale, too. (I did!)
Cauliflower Cod Chowder with Garlic and Thyme
DASH benefits: This filling chowder has loads of vegetables and lean protein without the fat and heaviness from the butter and heavy cream found in a lot of chowders.
DASH servings (if dividing into 8 servings):
2.5-3 vegetables & fruits
2 meats & fish
0.75 fat & oil
Heat the olive oil in a big pot and add the bacon, onion, shallot and garlic. Turn the heat to medium.
Saute, stirring often to prevent the alliums from burning, for 6-7 minutes, or until they are fragrant and softened.
Strip the thyme leaves off the stem and add to the pot. Saute for another minute until the thyme starts releasing the aroma.
Add the celery, carrots and red pepper to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.
Turn the heat to high and add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Add the milk and bring the pot to just before a boil. (Try not to let it boil too vigorously, or you’ll get milk scum floating on top--which is not a problem for me, but some people find it unpalatable.) Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Keeping the pot at just below a boil, add the cod. Submerge the pieces gently and add the cauliflower pieces. Let the pot simmer until the cod chunks are cooked through and opaque, for 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the sour cream and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread.
The chowder should keep in the fridge for 5-6 days. (Just make sure to reheat it thoroughly every time.) It can also be frozen and reheated later. I turned this into a quick and tasty Jamaican curry soup a few days later and had it over basmati rice. Yum!
Oh man, I hit a jackpot with this one! Pairing fresh spinach with spinach gnocchi seemed a bit silly, but I went ahead anyway because I had a bunch of spinach that I needed to use up. It was a resounding success! The spinach gnocchi came out wonderfully spinachy (well, no surprise there) and much lighter than your typical creamy gnocchi dish. It’s almost as if the spinach act as a sauce–a spinach lover’s dream gnocchi!
It’s in a toasty brown butter sauce, but there isn’t a lot of butter, just a quarter tablespoon per serving. The rest of the oil is olive oil (and not a ton of that, either). Thyme, garlic and amontillado (a sweet, aged sherry) give it a satisfying depth without weighing it down like heavy cream would. Earthy shiitake mushrooms add even more complexity. Try this quick Italian meal when you have a big bunch of fresh, sturdy spinach. (You want the fully grown spinach for this recipe, not the baby ones. Baby spinach doesn’t have enough flavor and gets limp too fast.)
Very Spinachy Spinach Gnocchi with Shiitake & Thyme Brown Butter Sauce
DASH benefits: This spinach gnocchi in thyme butter sauce is a rare gnocchi dish that brings a lot of veggies (half a bunch of spinach in each serving) and not a lot of dairy or oil--relatively speaking. It can be made vegetarian easily, if you skip the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.
2.5 vegetables & fruits
2 fat & oil
Put a big pot of water on high.
Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté on medium heat until softened and fragrant.
Add the shiitake and sauté until the shiitake takes on some brown color. Scrape the thyme leaves off the sprigs and add to the pan.
Add the butter to the pan and let it brown for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
Add the spinach to the pan. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid, and let it cook for a few minutes, until the spinach is deep green and cooked through.
Add the sherry and let its alcohol cook off, with the lid off.
While the spinach cooks, add a generous pinch of salt to the pot of boiling water and add the gnocchi.
Stir occasionally to prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pot (and to each other). Cook, according to the package instruction. (If using fresh gnocchi, it should be about 3-4 minutes.)
Add the gnocchi to the pan of spinach, along with a splash or two of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine. Add more of the gnocchi cooking liquid if the pan is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Like many other gnocchi and butter-based pasta dishes, this probably won't reheat well. I'd stick to making just enough to finish in one sitting, rather than try to make enough for leftovers.
With all that said… I do have a soft spot for gnocchi in cream sauce. This recipe from Salt & Lavender, which combines similar ingredients (spinach and mushroom) in a cream-based sauce spiked with Italian herbs, Dijon mustard and white wine, sounds loooovely. I might try this someday.