domingo, 22 de marzo de 2015

Sunday lunch: vegetarian hash step by step

Now you´ve worked all week long and yesterday a bunch of friends came by to have dinner.

A party of five, right!

But it´s Sunday morning and we have to prepare lunch, whatever it takes.

And it should be light, full of vitamins and anti oxidants because yesterday we´ve already had all the week´s worth of calories. Just with wine and dessert, let alone the Tostitos bag.


So here comes to the rescue a vegetarian recipe, full of flavor, and ON TOP, vitamins, proteins and very little fat, to be served as side dish or the dish itself.

So first, let´s review

The ingredients

Diced butternut squash
Diced potatos
Onion o red onion
Spinach leaves
Chikpeas (already cooked)
Hot paprika powder (or sweet one depending on your taste)
Cup of water or broth
Olive oil for the pan

Ingredients for the hash, fresh and colorful

The mixing

I´ll say this much for a hash, it´s super fun and super simple. Just add the ingredients to the skillet and magic will flow naturally.

Pour some oil on the pan or skillet and let the onion sweat for a few minutes and then add the potatoes and the butternut squash. Let both sweat and/or become slightly brown, turning them now and then so they do not stick to the bottom and burn. 
At the beginning of the cooking process

You may sometimes ask yourself why the butternut squash and potatoes are cooked in the oven in some recipes, or as is here, they are cooked with oil on the skillet at high temperature first, and then the water comes in to finish??. Keep on reading.

Take your time.

After sweating and getting a nice brownish hue on the potatoes, we can finally add the "wet" ingredients, so let´s bring on the chickpeas.
Already sweating, chickpeas are added

Now add the salt and paprika, and finally a cup of water or broth. Let it simmer for 5 minutes, until the potato and squash are cooked (tender but not "destroyed") and then we can add the spinach leaves. Please take note that spinach cooks in just a few minutes so it should be added at the very end of the cooking process.

Let the spinach cook on the water steam from the bottom
It will gradually become darker, do not over cook it, it should be still lively at the end, should look like this

Let´s eat!!
Now before the end, let me explain why we cook at higher temperature the squash and the potatoes: I´m not a nutritionist, but you may remember that the Vegetable Realm stores energy in the form of long chains of sugars (starch). We, members of the Animal Kingdom, unfortunately lack the ability to cut those chains of sugars to be nurtured. Therefore, from ancient times, we have won over the rest of the fellow animals by the invention of cooking: freeing those sugars in otherwise only-for-the-vegetables food.

So, how do we achieve that? Controlled heat destroys the chain in a rather clumsy or inefficient way... but it is free food, so we don´t care. Higher temperature frees more sugar and that is why we try to cook in the oven before boiling, it frees more sugars and the nutritional content of the same amount of food increases... and everybody happy!!

The serving

I am always trying to improve presentation, I mean, I´m a home cook not a Chef, but I´d love to impress like they do. So I pressed lightly the hash into a cup and then turned it over a plate, specially suited to serve with beef or chicken. Another traditional and very nice presentation is on an iron skillet.

Hope you enjoyed as much as we did. Leave me your comments below if you wish.

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