With 2017 well into it's first month, it comes as no surprise that myself, along with seemingly everybody else on social media, is trying to go into the new year with a fresh and healthy perspective. While I have zero interest in eliminating anything from my diet, what I am trying to focus on this year is being more conscious about including fresh and healthy ingredients into every meal, with a big emphasis on balance. I'm never going to give up pastries, cheese, and cured meats, so I have to accept that if I want to make those types of foods apart of my life, I have to be able to compromise by balancing them out with the good stuff. This means lots more fruits and veg, whole grains, pulses, and most definitely a lot more colour!
With this healthy perspective fresh in my mind, I've been trying to come up with new and exciting dinner options that will allow me to carry through my new diet goals (note that I say the word 'diet' as as in "the food and drink regularly provided or consumed," not in the restrictive sense of the word). As usual, my starting place for creating almost every recipe is by taking a look through my fridge and pantry. With some leftover pancetta and a bag full of mini Blushing Belle potatoes, the idea of a dinnertime hash came to mind. Wanting to stray from a lot of the potato hash recipes I found online, I took the pancetta as my spark for creating a unified theme to the dish. My hash would be Italian-Inspired! By adding in a cubanelle pepper, roasted cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, and pesto, suddenly my potato hash took on the flavours of one of my favourite types of cuisine. Hearty, comforting, and full of flavour, the hash turned out delicious, and also was fantastic warmed up again the next day as a leftover breakfast.
A hash is a great starting point for intermediate cooks who are looking to feel more confident and have more freedom in the kitchen. This is a great dish for practicing your knife skills, as well as developing your flavour palate. Play around with my recipe. Sub-in ingredients that you have in your fridge. Don't have cubanelle peppers but you do have a red pepper pepper lying around? Use that! Maybe you prefer sundried tomato pesto to a basil one? Sub that in! Play around with seasoning each aspect of this dish so you can start to learn how to taste and season as you go. If you don't use pinch bowls, start! Feeling your spices as you add them in will give you a better feel for exactly how much you're adding, and will overall make you a much better cook. If you don't already use kosher salt and are still using table table salt, this is also a great time to make that switch. Coarse kosher salt allows you to really feel the grains between your fingers, once again, allowing you to get a better sense of how much you're adding.
1 dry pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil1.5 lb Blushing Bell Mini Potatoes, diced
1/4 cup pancetta, diced
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, seeds removed and diced
1/2 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 Tbsp basil pesto (I used a homemade basil and walnut pesto, but you can use what you have!)
salt and pepper
eggs for serving
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Toss together tomatoes with sliced onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until charred and wrinkly, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
- While tomatoes are cooking, prepare potatoes. Add potatoes to a large pot and fill with enough water to cover potatoes by at least 1-inch. Generously salt water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 5-minutes. Drain immediately. Set aside.
- In a large skillet set to medium heat, add pancetta and cook until fat has rendered and pancetta is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to set aside to drain on paper towels.
- Add diced onion and sweat. Add cubanelle pepper and cook until slightly softened. Add cannellini beans and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in prepared roasted tomatoes, sliced onion, and pancetta.
- Gently stir in the potatoes and pesto, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, with each serving topped with a freshly fried (or poached!) egg.