Tag Archives: mint

Spicy Beef-Stuffed Potato Pancakes with Minty Yogurt

Pugliese cooks make delicious “pizze” using boiled potatoes and flour for the crust; similar to gnocchi dough, the potato dough is moist and supple and lends itself beautifully to various toppings, most commonly tomatoes, Mozzarella, and herbs.

A few weeks ago, I found myself with some leftover boiled potatoes and raw beef chuck, so I decided to try the Pugliese potato dough to encase a spicy beef filling. I shaped the mixture into small pancakes, and after a brief bake in a hot oven, the pancakes were golden and lightly crisp on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside. At first glance, my husband thought the pancakes looked like chocolate chip cookies, so he was quite surprised when they appeared on his plate for lunch!

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list; the recipe comes together easily and quickly, and the pancakes can be shaped up to 12 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to pop in the oven.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer

For the potato dough:

  • 3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground

For the beef filling:

  • 1/4 pound ground beef chuck (80% lean)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To cook:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Make the potato dough: Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, peel, pass through a ricer onto a counter, and cool to room temperature. Add the flour, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds, and gather the ingredients until they come together into a dough. Do not overwork the dough or it will get sticky and require additional flour. Shape into a ball, roll into a log, and cut into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Set on a lightly floured counter, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. (The dough will start to stick it is left on the counter too long, so it is essential that you flour the counter under the balls of dough.)

Make the beef filling: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mash well with your hands to combine; cook a tiny bit of filling to check for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Divide the filling into 16 equal mounds on a plate.

Make the yogurt sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; refrigerate until needed.

To cook: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Oil the parchment with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.


Take one ball of dough and cup it in one hand. Place a mound of beef filling in the middle of the dough. Press down with your free hand and then gather the dough up and over the filling to enclose. Flatten gently between the palms of your hands and place on the oiled parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Brush the tops of the pancakes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (preferably set on convection bake). Bake the pancakes 12 minutes; remove from the oven and flip them over. Return them to the oven and bake another 12 minutes, or until golden on top and just starting to get a bit crisp. Serve hot, with the yogurt sauce.



Fresh Fava Beans with Mint, Scallions, and Lettuce

Have you ever tasted fresh fava beans? They are nothing like their frozen counterparts, which are usually mealy and not very sweet. And they are nothing like dried fava beans, which, although delicious and earthy in flavor, are neither vibrant in color (they turn a delicate yellow-ochre when dried) nor flavor (they mellow and become far more “beany” when dried).

This is the season to taste fresh fava beans, and my husband and I have been gorging on them since April. We love them plain, boiled briefly and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper; sautéed with bacon and onions as a simple sauce for pasta; transformed into a soothing, creamy soup with a sprinkling of dill upon serving; or, as below, slow-cooked with scallions, mint, and lettuce. The latter is a technique you can also use with fresh shucked peas, which are just coming into season.

Look for fresh fava beans with unblemished, stiff, heavy pods. The brighter colored pods indicate sweeter beans. Try to buy them the day you plan to cook them, as they will be even sweeter if they never see the inside of the refrigerator. If you are feeling particularly industrious, you can shell, boil, and shuck fava beans in large quantities for freezing; place in freezer-safe plastic bags and freeze for up to 1 year, and your frozen fava beans are sure to be endlessly better than store-bought frozen fava beans.


Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 4 leaves Boston lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into slivers

Shell the beans and rinse them thoroughly. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Boil the beans for 3 minutes, or until they look wrinkly and have softened a bit. Don’t be alarmed if the boiling water looks a bit dark, as this is completely normal. Drain and rinse under cool running water to stop the cooking, then drain again. Slip off the thick papery skin from each bean (this is shucking, and is necessary for the beans to be edible, as the skins are very fibrous).

Place the olive oil, scallions, and garlic in a 10-inch sauté pan. Warm over medium heat until the scallions soften, about 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Stir in the shucked fava beans, pour in 1/2 cup of water, and cover. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring once in a while and adding a bit of water as needed to maintain a bit of moisture in the pan. The fava beans should never dry out completely. If the beans are still crunchy, cook a little longer, covered; they should be crisp-tender, not hard, when done.

Uncover the pan and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Add the mint and lettuce, stir well, and cook 1 minute, or until the lettuce wilts. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.