Potatoes and Greens, Mediterranean Style
 
 
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This dish is my adaptation of a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert. Unlike most of her recipes, this one can be made in about an hour!

In San Diego, greens and potatoes are now abundant at the local farmers' markets, so this is an ideal dish for taking advantage of the seasonal bounty. Potatoes are rich in potassium and are nourishing to the spleen. Greens are slightly bitter, warming, and high in calcium, iron, and vitamin A. I like extra protein when I am eating potatoes, so I typically add some ham or chicken and a bit of cheese when I make this. If cow milk bothers you, try using a goat’s milk or sheep’s milk cheese as an alternative. If you make the vegetarian version, add an extra 2 eggs or serve it with a protein-based side dish such as quinoa.

1 lb Yukon gold or red potatoes, sliced approximately ¼ inch thick
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped OR 1 cup of coarsely chopped leek
1 lb kale, chard, or a combination, rinsed thoroughly
1 tsp Spanish paprika (see note) combined with ¼ cup water
½ tsp salt
½ cup coarsely chopped ham, chorizo, or cooked chicken (optional)
4 eggs, lightly beaten with an additional ½ tsp salt
½ c grated cheese of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potato slices on a lightly-greased cookie sheet, in as close to a single layer as possible. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are browned and slightly crispy.

While the potatoes are roasting, remove the stems from the greens. If you are using kale, discard the stems which are quite woody. If you are using chard, chop the stems coarsely and combine with the onions or leeks. Coarsely chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion or leek and the chard stems if using chard. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden.

Add the greens, a few handfuls at a time, simmering until the next handfuls will fit into the pot. When all the greens have been added, add the salt, paprika water, and optional meat (if using). Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the greens are tender. Kale will take a bit longer than chard.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and carefully place the slices on top of the greens, covering the greens as much as possible. The potatoes will be in layers, and will fill most of the pan. Pour the eggs over the top, cover the pan, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the eggs are cooked through.

Cover with the grated cheese (if using), cover the pan, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted OR place the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly.

Slice into wedges and serve with a fresh green salad.

 

Note: Spanish paprika is slightly spicy and smoky, adding a nice touch of heat to the dish without too much flame. It is available in San Diego at Pata Negra Spanish Deli and Market (in Pacific Beach), or on the web at Penzey’s. There really is no substitute for this spice. The dish is delicious without it (substitute ¼ tsp red pepper flakes for a touch of heat without the smokiness), but it is worth the effort to find some. If you make it to Pata Negra, be sure to check out their selection of imported sheep’s milk cheeses and chorizo – yum!