Friday, March 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} A Play on Patties, or Zucchini and Potato Stacks

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was inspired by the imaginative food photography being displayed on Pinterest boards and blogs, with towering stacks of everything from burgers to veggies showing the playful side of food.  My favorite stack is my friends Steve and Jamie’s beautifully precarious mountain of blueberry pancakes.

When I thought of stacks, my mind kept returning to the alternating stacks of zucchini and potato in the traditional Cretan boureki, a dish my husband and I ate several times on our honeymoon in the Greek islands last year.     

It’s such a perfect stacked dish.

Layers of very thinly sliced zucchini and tomato, sandwiching creamy ricotta cheese and extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint and smoky pieces of oven-dried tomatoes.  It’s heaven.

Don’t be shy with the olive oil in this dish.  It’s a necessity. 

The boureki is delicious served warm for dinner, or cold the next morning for breakfast (I tested that theory, just to be sure).  I hope you enjoy, preferably with someone you love.

Boureki {Zucchini & Potato Gratin}, from the Island of Crete

Serves 4 - 6

1 pound russet potatoes
1 pound zucchini
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ - ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups homemade ricotta cheese, or good-quality purchased ricotta
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 halves oven-dried Roma tomatoes, chopped* (see recipe, above)
2 – 4 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a mandolin (or your knife), thinly sliced the potatoes.  Place in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour and a pinch of salt.  Again, using a mandolin (or knife), thinly slice the zucchini.  Place in another large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour and a pinch of salt.

Take a casserole or baking dish (I use one that is 10” x 8” x 3”) and coat the bottom with olive oil (3 – 4 tablespoons).  Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of the potatoes and then a layer of the zucchini, using about ¼ of each of the vegetables.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place ¼ of the tomatoes  and ¼ of the mint, and then top the layer with ¼ of the ricotta and ¼ feta.  Repeat this process three more times, ending with ricotta and feta.  Pour about 1/3 – ½ cup of olive oil over the top (enough to cover the top in a thin layer).  Don’t be shy with the olive oil!  Place in the oven and bake for about an hour, or until the potatoes and zucchini are very tender and the boureki is browned on top.  Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

*If you don’t have the oven-dried tomatoes on hand, you could grate fresh tomatoes

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

12 Roma tomatoes
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Squeeze each half to remove the seeds, and discard the seeds/pulp.  Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with sea salt and olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), to coat.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean-up).  Place the tomatoes cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for about an hour, or until the tomatoes are soft and starting to caramelize.  Remove and let cool to room temperature.  Store any leftover tomatoes in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, up to 4 days.  

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