Good evening everyone! Okay...I guess if you live in the greater central Iowa area, it's not such a good evening. We currently find ourself buried in the midst of yet another winter storm - the 2nd in as many months - there ought to be a rule about that. As I look out the window all I can see is a wall of white and the trees whipping in the wind. Brr.
As our regular readers are likely well aware, one of my favorite tricks is to take a classic recipe and find a way to make it healthier. A few weeks ago, I found myself craving scalloped potatoes and ham. This classic, cheesy dish is a popular fall and winter recipe, but it can be call anything but healthy.
There were not a lot of 'healthy' scalloped potatoes and ham recipes to be found on the internet - or at least, none that I was particularly interested in. So, I took a different path. I found a recipe for healthy scalloped potatoes and simply added ham (brilliant, right?)
The Recipe: Light Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Original Recipe Based On: Scalloped Potatoes from Eatingwell.com
What You'll Need:
2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled and Sliced 1/4 Thick
8 Ounces Diced Ham
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion (Diced)
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cups Low Fat Milk
1/2 Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the sliced potatoes in a large bowl along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once all the potatoes are coated evenly, distribute them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place the baking sheet(s) in the oven and let the potatoes roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're light and golden brown. (Make sure to stir and rotate the potatoes about halfway through cooking).
While your potatoes are roasting, you can begin preparing the sauce. In a large (12 inch) non stick skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion and cook until it becomes soft and golden brown, this takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Next, add a pinch of salt and pepper, along with the all purpose flour. Stir until the mixture thickens up into a sticky ball (this should happen quickly). Next, add the milk and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to work up any stuck on bits from the skillet. Stir this mixture occasionally while it simmers. Allow it to cook until the mixture thickens up. (When the sauce coats the back of the spoon, you've reached the desired thickness).
From here, you can choose two options to "dress up" your sauce. Either add fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley or sage to make the sauce a brighter, more "fresh & rustic" style, or add some shredded cheese to create a nice rich and creamy base. Because I'm not just cooking for myself, but also for my cheese-fiend wife, I opted to add cheese to the sauce. Regardless of the method you choose, remove the sauce from the heat and set aside. (If you'd like, you can add the ham to the sauce at the end, it saves a step in the next part of the recipe).
Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and scoop them into a 2 quart baking dish. I like to add the ingredients in sections, to make sure everything is well incorporated (scoop or two of potatoes, a little pour of sauce, repeat). Also be sure to mix in your diced ham during this process as well. Repeat this layer process until all of your ingredients have been worked in and everything is evenly distributed.
Top the baking dish off with the breadcrumbs and a light sprinkle of cheese (optional) and then place the dish in the oven (still at 425) for 20 to 25 minutes or until the breadcrumbs become a deep golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Cheese and potatoes are one of the culinary "sure hits" - you really can't go wrong when you combine the two. The trick is keeping a dish healthy, while still utilizing this great flavor combination. By making a sauce with cheese as an ingredient, instead of the base, you create the same great cheesy flavor, but avoid piling on unnecessary calories. Also, by using olive oil in place of butter in the baking process, you cut out lots of bad fat. At just under 300 calories per serving, this healthy and tasty treat is sure to hit the spot and keep you eating well during the winter months.
That's all we have for you this evening, Maggie takes to the kitchen tomorrow night to try her hand at a brand new recipe. Until then,