If you didn’t get a chance to grab a bag of organic russets on sale recently at Newflower Market, Texas farmers have granted you a reprieve. You can find Texas-grown new red potatoes right now at Central Market for $1.99 a pound. No small potatoes for small potatoes, but sometimes you gotta have your spud fix. Either way, boil up some ‘taters for this comforting casserole and store any extra boiled potatoes in the fridge for quick breakfasts.
This dish used up my leftover cottage cheese (from Mackin’ Cheese) and incorporates fresh Texas cool weather produce, still available for a little while longer. Serve as is or gild with your favorite salsa or a tangy tamarind chutney.
INDIAN SEASONED SPINACH AND POTATO BAKE serves several
- 4 medium-sized cooked potatoes, or 9-10 new potatoes. I boil up a few and keep ’em in the fridge for quick starching.
- 1 good-sized Texas leek, trimmed, washed, quartered and sliced thin
- 1 (or more) good-sized local green garlic bulb, or 1 (or more) clove of organic or local garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon paprika, smoked is good
- 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala. You can use your favorite recipe, or try this basic blend. Or you can buy it ready made in bulk spice departments.
- 4 Tablespoons plus ½ Tablespoon ghee or organic butter (click for a coupon on Organic Valley), plus more for greasing you baking dish. Click for my instructions on making your own ghee.
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon asafetida, optional but yummy.
- 1 10-ounce bag of Cora Lamar’s triple-washed Texas-grown spinach (ready to cook) or other local spinach, trimmed and cleaned.
- ½ teaspoon plus ¾ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt. Plus some kosher salt for the potatoes—I like Diamond Crystal.
- 1 cup organic or local cottage cheese. I used Organic Valley. Full Quiver Farm sometimes makes cottage cheese. Ask at their booth the next time you’re shopping Austin Farmers Market or Barton Creek Farmers Market.
- 1 local egg
- a few sprigs of local cilantro
Combine the ground spices, paprika through the garam masala, and stir in 3 Tablespoons water. Heat up a large saute pan with the 4 Tbls. ghee or butter. Add the asafetida and give it a quick stir before stirring in the spice mixture. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for a minute or two, until the spices begin to look dryish and separate from the butterfat. Stir in the leeks to get them well covered with the spices and add about 3 Tablespoons more water. Saute, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until the leeks have softened. Stir in the garlic to release its fragrance.
Break each potato into two halves (unless they’re small) and smash each spud into coarse chunks with the heel of your hand. Add the ‘taters to the cooking pan as you go. Stir the mixture well to get all the potatoes covered with the seasonings, sprinkle them with a good pinch of kosher salt and let them sit and brown for a couple minutes. Stir and salt again and let brown some more. Turn the potato mixture into a bowl.
Heat up the ½ Tablespoon ghee or butter in the same pan over high heat and wilt the spinach. Place spinach on a plate to cool for a minute before chopping it up and pressing most of the liquid out. You don’t have to squeeze it totally dry. Mix the spinach into the potatoes.
Meanwhile, combine the cottage cheese, egg, ¾ teaspoon salt and cilantro in a small food processor bowl and process until smooth. Stir the cottage cheese into the potato mixture. Scrape into a large buttered casserole dish (I used my 3½ quart Le Creuset “buffet casserole”) and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, until piping hot and steaming in the middle when stabbed with a butter knife.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to serve this with some juicy grilled local sausages, such as Dai Due‘s fat and juicy spicy wild boar sausage.