Yesterday was National Pancake Day, at least back home in the US. It seems to also have been National Pig Day and National Peanut Butter Day, but I chose to go with the pancakes. I put together a recipe round-up over on Piccante Dolce of the pancakes I think look delicious and hope to make this year. The boy and I were under the weather on Monday, so instead of following Meatless Monday I made Slow Cooker Pho Ga to help sooth our upset tummies. To make up for that I went for a Meatless Tuesday and wanted to also have my own little Pancake Day Celebration. I could have gone with a traditional pancake recipe like one of those in my round-up but upon doing a quick we search, these gems popped up and I had to make them. Mainly because they sounded delicious but also since I had some Spinach Pistachio Pesto leftover in the fridge. I had grand plans of using it with a pizza or calzone and still have a bit leftover if I want to do that, but I knew it would be great with potatoes and cheese too.
The Boy was out for the evening working so it was dinner just for me, with leftovers for lunch today. I adapted the recipe to be perfect for 2, something we need to get better at because I'm getting sick of the obscenely stocked fridge that's mostly leftovers. I am constantly putting off recipes I want to try in a week because I need to reuse these leftovers. While I'm having fun getting creative with the leftovers, I really loved the Pork & Black Bean Chili, my first priority in this challenge is to make sure I'm trying plenty of new things. Especially when something new is a tasty as this dish.
Potato Pancake with Mozzarella & Pesto
adapted from Michael Chiarello
1 lb baking potatoes (about 2 average -sized potatoes)
1 small onion
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
3 oz of goat's milk mozzarella
2 Tbsps unbleached all-purpose flour
extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsps of Spinach Pistachio Pesto
1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Poke each potato 3-4 times with a fork. Place in the heated oven and bake for an hour. When done cooking cut in half and let cool until cool enough to handle. Lower the oven to 250F
2. Using a box grater grate the onion into a bowl. Then grate the potatoes into the bowl or pass them through a potato ricer. Toss the potatoes and onions together with the salt & pepper. Form the potato and onion mixture into 6 equal sized patties.
3. Slice the mozzarella into 1" squares that are approx 1/8" thick until you have 6 squares, grate the rest. Place 2 squares onto of one patty and top with another, pressing gently to seal the edge and form into 1 patty. Repeat with the rest of the patties to make a total of three patties. Gently dredge each patty in the flour.
4. Heat a cast iron skillet with oil over medium-high heat, until it begins to smoke. Add the patties and lower the heat to medium. Cook each patty until golden on each side, approx 5-6 minutes per side. Remove the cooked patties to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Top the patties with the rest of the mozzarella and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted, approx 15 minutes.
5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and serve each patty topped with a Tbsp of pesto.
These were even better than I thought they'd be. I'm sorry the boy wasn't home for this dinner because he'd have loved it. Too bad for him we won't have them until next year! The key is the crispy edges from pan-frying the cakes. They are a bit soft and delicate, probably from the added moisture from the onions. The original recipe didn't call for onions, but I am so glad I added them. The flavor they add really makes the cakes and makes the softer cake worth it. I loved the tang the goat's milk mozzarella added, though it would be tasty with traditional mozzarella and store-bought pesto. It's a perfectly hearty winter into spring dish for those nights that are still quite cold. I can easily be made vegan by swapping out the pesto for a pistou of pistachio, spinach and olive oil and subbing in vegan cheese.
While there is a bit of cook time involved with baking the potatoes, this recipe would be great with leftover baked potatoes or you could bake them on the weekend and make these for an easy week night dinner. I paired mine with a mache salad dressed with cranberries and pistachios, to really carry the pistachio flavor into both dishes. I found just one cake was the perfect amount for me (though I ate 1/2 more because they were so good), but am sure the boy would have eaten at least 1 1/2.
Here's how my last few day shaped up, the first time in awhile I've cooked so many nights in a row.
Saturday - Dinner at Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill with the Boy and my Dad
Sunday - Chicken Enchiladas with leftover Portuguese Chicken
Monday - Slow Cooker Pho Ga or Chicken Pho for us non-Vietnamese speakers
Tuesday - Potato Pancakes with Mozzarella & Pesto