Cook what’s there, from the garden to the back of the fridge Roasted potatoes with fennel, green beans, and old cheese

My cooking generally strikes a funky balance between super fresh things from the garden and whatever is about to grow hair in my fridge. I’ve enjoyed making food so much more since letting go of a strict adherence to recipes and learning to cook with what I have. The recipes I share are seasonal, adaptable, and non-judgmental.

Last year a friend traded me seed potatoes for strawberry plants. I have never grown potatoes because I was sure they would be covered in diseases and get eaten by evil pests, which would then proceed to eat the rest of my garden. Besides, I Knew For A Fact that eating potatoes was like shooting refined sugar straight into your veins. I threw the nightmare nuggets into a bucket of straw and ignored them for three months. The handful of (pink!) potatoes they grew (no diseases!) were delicious, so this year I dedicated a 3×8 bed to Terra Rosa, Purple Majesty, and Amarosa fingerlings.

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Now comes the reckoning. I have a ton of potatoes that need eating, but mashed potatoes is about all I’ve ever made.

I didn’t take any pictures of the prep because I thought it would be a horrendous failure. I don’t even know what to call it. After eating it reheated for the second night, the fennel, parsley, and garam masala seem the most important from a flavor perspective, but substitute whatever you need to!

This takes about an hour and a half to cook, but not that long for prep.

What You Need

  • ~3 lbs potatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 bunch of leafy greens (chard, kale, sweet potato greens, Asian greens, spinach, arugula, whatever you have or can get)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 lb green beans
  • ~8 ounces of cheese of some kind
  • olive oil, salt, garam masala, citrus juice of some kind
  • tinfoil, casserole dish at least 9×13

What You Do

I kinda sorta peeled the potatoes where the skin was rough or there were eyes. Slice the potatoes about 1/3 inch thick, grease a big casserole dish, and lay the slices out. Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel the cloves of a head of garlic and drop them in whole amongst the potatoes. Chop the fennel and distribute it across the top.

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I harvested this just in the knick of time before it separated and went to seed.

In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garam masala (the ingredients are common so if you don’t have this you might be able to make it, which I’ve done in a pinch), a splash of lemon or lime juice. Or cider vinegar if that’s what you have. I had a nearly disgusting container of chévre in the fridge that I whisked in. Cream cheese would work fine, or something else fatty and creamy, or nothing. Pour this over the potatoes evenly. I then layered the top with pre-sliced cheddar cheese. I ran out so there were gaps. Any cheese is fine, though less if it’s a salty hard cheese like parmesan.

Cover tightly with tin foil and stick it in the oven for about an 1:15.

I shredded a pile of chard and some fresh parsley and set them aside to mix in at serving time. I like my greens just wilted so usually mixing them with hot food is enough. The beans are Cherokee Trail of Tears, which are an excellent multi-purpose pole bean for green beans, soup beans, or drying. Frozen green beans are a fine substitute. I roughly chopped the beans and sautéed them with a little butter just until their green deepened.

Fill bowls with the fresh greens and green beans and just add in the potatoes when they are done, and mix.

Just to be safe, take a last look in your fridge to see if anything else is fermenting back there that needs to be used. I found a bunch of sliced manchego that sat out all day at summer camp in my toddler’s lunch (because he only eats things that are crunchy and therefore only likes cheese that is hard and thank heavens for Costco). I pried apart the greasy mess and crumbled it on top of my bowl once everything else was combined.

Voilá! Of course I forgot my husband can’t abide goat cheese, but he ate it anyway, which is saying a lot. My children won’t touch it, so I get it all to myself!

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