Aug 102010
I don’t know who came up with the terms main course and side dish, but I think he was slightly confused.  “Main” implies that it will be the highlight of my plate, while “side” suggests that it will be a mere afterthought, there as a filler but not as a main attraction.  Think of Thanksgiving.  Not to offend the all mighty turkey, but what I really get excited for is the stuffing and the sweet potatoes.  Side dish making is an art and I think sometimes we don’t reach our full potential by steaming green beans or roasting potatoes.  So I decided to bring the side dish to center stage.   

This side dish isn’t just great because it’s called a torte which sounds très fancy.  It’s great because it has amazing flavors like parmesan, green onion, and fresh thyme.  

It’s also great because it utilizes summer squash which is overflowing in your farmers market right now.  The construction process is fun.  First you use a mandolin if you have one or a knife if you’re me to cut the squash and potatoes into thin slices.  

The layering process goes as so.  One layer of overlapping potatoes, One layer of overlapping squash, drizzle 1 tspn olive oil, sprinkle 1/3 cheese mixture.  Do it again.  Then one last layer of potato, another tspn of oil, then the rest of the cheese.  So recap, 3 total layers of potato, 2 of squash, 3 tspns oil, and 3 parts parmesan mixture.  Got it?

Bake it in the oven and let the kitchen fill up with amazing smells.  Mine was a little difficult to remove from the pan, but after a little finagling it came out in one piece.  Victory!

I served it with some yummy marinated chicken skewers and a salad with spinach, goat cheese, candied almonds, and sliced peaches.  Perfect summer meal if I do say so myself.  And I do.

Nutritional highlights:  Potatoes aren’t necessarily the healthiest “vegetable” but it’s still ok in moderation, especially when it’s thinned out with some healthy squash.  If you’re gonna eat carbs, I think something that came out of the ground is always better than refined bread or pasta.  Carbs fill you up and give you energy, so don’t hate on them.  Especially when they taste this good and look this cool.

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Adapted from 
Bon Appetit and smittenkitchen (look at her pics, they’re way better than mine)

I halved the original recipe to make one pan as follows:
Makes 4 servings

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray or butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. Set aside a handful of green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/3 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/2 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/3 of potatoes, then 1/2 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/3 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. 

Cover pan with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)
Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with green onions; serve.

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