Several readers lately have asked Edwin or myself about how they can use what they have on hand – either learning new ways to use a specific ingredient that they happen to have an abundance of, or ways to improvise with what’s available.
Tonight was a bit of an improvising night for me and my husband. We had a great time on Saturday morning at the Arlington Farmer’s Market, which means we brought home various produce that looked good but that we didn’t know what we’d use it for. Among these items were two small to medium sized Russet potatoes.
I’d been eying a recipe for Potato Latkes lately; however when I started making them last night I quickly realized that I didn’t have Yukon potatoes or an onion (how could I not have an onion?). I decided instead of throwing in the towel that I’d, well, improvise!
The result of my improvisation should not be referred to as latkes. To anyone who has had latkes or knows what they are, I’m sure I’m not fooling you! Latkes are typically a Jewish tradition, and it’s really just a simple potato pancake fried until crispy with some grated onion and an egg.
Yeah… that’s not what I made!
I located a red pepper in the fridge that was almost past its prime – in the “latkes” it went! Joining the red pepper were my favorites – frozen spinach and a bit of garlic. And for my final insult, instead of using 6 tablespoons of olive oil and frying my little cakes, I axed the oil completely and simply broiled them!
In the end I was left with potato cakes that were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, brimming with healthy veggies and a nice kick of salt and pepper. My adventure was a success, and I was able to use some quality produce that we didn’t want to go to waste. There are really endless combinations that you can create!
My husband and I ate these potato cakes on their own, but a side of baked beans would make a nice compliment. Enjoy!
Poor Man’s Potato Cakes
2 small/medium sized potatoes, cut into 1 inch squares
1 small red pepper (or 1/2 large), diced
1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 square of matzah, crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
dash of black pepper and cayenne
Steam cubed potatoes in a colander, covered, over boiling water until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Cool and mash.
Cook spinach according to package instructions. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine mashed potatoes and diced red pepper. Add in spinach, garlic, egg, crushed matzah, 1/2 tsp of the salt and some black pepper. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Form mixture into patties and place on the sheet. The mixture should stick together without sticking to you. Sprinkle remaining salt over the potato cakes along with some more pepper and a dash of cayenne on each.
Broil (remember to keep your oven door partially open) at the top of the oven for 9 minutes, then carefully turn patties over with a spatula (don’t burn yourself!) and broil for an additional 4 minutes.
Serve, sprinkling with more salt and/or pepper as needed.