The life of a Midwesterner in the Mediterranean isn’t all palm trees and fresh artichokes with Romesco sauce. And besides, sometimes I just crave typical Midwestern special occasion eats. The midwest’s endless variations on dips, potato dishes (like hashbrown casserole) and crock pot appetizers just feel like home. Even though in my Barcelona kitchen, my cooking tends to Mediterranean and Asian-inspired dishes, my heart sometimes needs a taste of home.
One of J.’s favorites prepared by my mom on our visits to Missouri is what mom calls hashbrown casserole, and my sister-in-law calls funeral potatoes. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a rich dish made with too many processed foods (frozen hashbrowns, condensed cream of mushroom or chicken soup, sour cream) to become a regular rotation at my house. And that’s without taking into account that I don’t have access to frozen hashbrowns here, and campbells condensed cream of mushroom costs approximately 3 euros for a tiny can, packed with salt and additives and things I don’t want in my food, anyway.
It was only a matter of time until I adapted a healthier version of hashbrown casserole for us, because J.’s parents insist on inundating our apartment with potatoes from their respective villages on a constant basis. We literally have more potatoes than we can eat, even though I’ve taken to eating a small one for breakfast with salt, pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.
So here it is, a recipe for a satisfying (and rich) hashbrown casserole, sans all the extra salt and additives, and a little bit lower-calorie besides.
Healthier Hashbrown Casserole (Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side)
- 3 medium potatoes (approx. 4 cups shredded)
- 1 small onion, diced (approx. 1 cup)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used raw milk gouda, but any creamy, strongly flavored cheese will work, or you could even use a mixture of a stronger, dry cheese, and a creamier mild cheese)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp butter or olive oil to grease the pan
- Shred potatoes with a cheese grater, or food processor.
- Shred the cheese.
- Mix with salt and pepper
- Grease the pan with butter or olive oil.
- Press potato and cheese mixture into the pan
- Put in a 250 C Oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Cover with baking paper or aluminum foil
- Remove covering for the last 5 minutes.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serving Suggestions and Extra Tips
- This is a gluten-free, vegetarian dish. To make it appropriate for vegans, use a soy cheese, or skip the cheese altogether, and add extra spices, a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of tomato sauce for flavor.
- This is a great make-ahead side for big family gatherings—save energy by doing everything in the oven at once—casserole, a ham or chicken, baked vegetables.
- Poach eggs on top of the casserole for a quick breakfast.
- When making as a main dish, you can mix in an egg or two for extra protein and substitute shredded carrots and zucchini for some of the potato for a full serving of vegetables.
- Make an even richer casserole with bacon bits and a tablespoon of full-fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream.
- Make a lower-fat dish by reducing then cheese by half, and using a reduced fat cheese.