I like gardening.
I like the process of planting seeds, of watching them grow, and of enjoying the bounty- be it flowers that you can fill your vases with or vegetables you can fill your stomach with. With that being said, I’m not a very good nor faithful gardener. I thrive in the early spring, during the warm weather itch, but tend to become “side-tracked” with other things later in the season.
This was the first year that I’ve had my own vegetable garden and started everything from seed. Sure it’s satisfying to buy plants and tend them as your own, but you reach a different level of enjoyment and attachment to your garden when you’ve watched everything grow from tiny, dry seeds to gigantic beasts.
One such beast is my summer squash. Yellow squash. The kind I once associated with old people, but now have a good amount of appreciation for. Part of the fun with growing squash is watching them bloom their gigantic yellow flowers (I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to let them do that), and then quickly develop from tiny squash babies to one-pound wonders.
Today is Sunday.
Sundays in Norway are family days- the shops are closed and it’s one’s duty to become a mountain man, berry picker, or bike rider for the day. Try to spend the whole day inside on your butt (in front of you’re computer screen, for example) and the neighbors will begin to question your patriotism. Last Sunday we were able to hit two birds with one stone and got in a full day’s mountain trip and berry picking excursion all-in-one. I figure, after so much exercise and patriotism last week, there’s no need to feel guilty about staying on flat ground this Sunday. That doesn’t, however, change the fact that all the grocery stores are closed.
It’s lazy Sundays like these that make a person grateful for their garden.
A simple from-the-garden summer squash torte with two potatoes and two cheeses became today’s lunch. It’s the kind of dish that fits into any meal plan- it’s great served as a main course with a salad and some bread on the side, while also being the kind of dish that can cozy up along side some roast chicken or steak. In addition, it’s tasty hot, right out-of-the-oven, but the flavors shine just as well, perhaps even better at room temp. And lastly, it’s adaptable. What more could a girl want on an at-home Sunday afternoon?
I made my torte with a mixture of sweet potatoes and new potatoes, although using just one or the other would work fine too. Be sure to slice the potatoes and squash uniformly so that they cook evenly- use a mandolin if your knife skills aren’t up to par. For the cheese, I went with two flavorful favorites that melt well and provide complexity- Manchego and Jarlsberg. Parmesan, Gruyere, or any melting cheese with some bite would be fine. Lastly, I recommend using a variety of herbs, preferably fresh, and as much garlic as you like- skimp on these two things and the dish won’t be nearly as good.
Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Sommersquash og Potettorte
*Makes 8 side-dish servings or 4 main-course servings
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly into rings
1 cup (4 ounces/ 115 g) grated cheese (such as: Manchego, Jarlsberg, or Parmessan)
2 T. all-purpose flour
A good handful of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, chives, rosemary, etc...), chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large sweet potato (about half a pound/225 g), peeled and cut into 1/8” rounds
1 lb. (450 g) new potatoes (or other good baking potato), peeled and cut into 1/8” rounds
3-4 Tablespoons olive oilMore chopped fresh herbs to garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Grease a 9-inch/23 cm spring form cake pan with olive oil. Toss the, cheese, flour, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
2. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in slightly overlapping circles in the bottom of your pan (you can choose to mix the two varieties or use just one variety for this layer and another for the second layer). Layer 1/2 of the squash in slightly overlapping circles atop the potatoes. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat, layering the remaining potatoes, remaining squash and some more olive oil. Sprinkle with top with the remaining cheese mixture.
3. Cover your pan with foil. Bake until potatoes and squash are almost tender, about 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until the cheese and onions begins to brown and the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes longer.
4. Cut each tart into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with more herbs to garnish.
*Can be made ahead of time. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F/175C oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.