Most days of the year pass by without anything noteworthy marking them into our memory. Average, middle-of-the road days filled with ordinary occurrences and simple pleasures. I find I like those days so much more than those with a lot of hoopla. The kind of days when I get to enjoy the little things in life that are so often taken for granted: the soft sound of raindrops gently tapping on the window, the warmth of a weekend fire, the aroma of oven goodness winding its way upstairs beckoning everyone to gather in the kitchen. The comforts of home.
After being in Maui for a week and being completely surrounded by incredible vistas and the heady scent of plumeria at every turn, I came home refreshed and ready for some serious family time. I know we missed each other in equal measure. And I found it immensely satisfying to close my front door to everything, relishing every moment of being back with those I love. Of course, I had a suitcase filled with treasures my kids were itching to get into that didn’t let them stray from my side for too long. Dried mangoes, macadamia nuts, a unique hand-carved tiki, a plastic bag of sea glass, shells and heart shaped pieces of coral collected by yours truly were among the high points. But once the excitement of those waned, we were right back together, absorbing each others’ stories. Reconnecting. Sharing. Laughing. And when we all cooked together, it was about as close to perfection as I could have ever imagined.
At that moment, I had the greatest sense of appreciation for the beauty in everyday experiences, joy and comfort in the ordinary. I need to allow myself to see and live those moments. Often. I need to take the time to appreciate the rainy days and subsequent rainbows. I need to enjoy going down the slide of life laughing with those I love. And I need to make pie. Savory Broccoli and Cheddar Pie with Potato Crust. It has nothing to do with the foods I ate while in Maui, but it has everything to do with simple pleasures and soul-satisfying experiences at home.
This recipe was very loosely adapted from California Heritage Continues, a cookbook from The Junior League of Pasadena. It is a perfect accompaniment to any brunch, lunch or dinner and welcomed by vegetarians and gluten-free eaters. It is also a great base recipe with the opportunity to vary it with whatever vegetables are in season.
- 2 cups grated raw Idaho russet potatoes
- Kosher salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup grated yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place grated potatoes in a clean kitchen towel. Gather towel above mound of potatoes and wring to express all moisture.
- In a medium bowl, combine shredded potatoes, a dash of salt and the grated onions.
- In a well-oiled 9-inch pie pan (recommend glass Pyrex pan), evenly pat in the potato mixture making sure to come up the sides of the pan with equal thickness.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
- Brush the crust with 2 tablespoons of oil and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the crust begins to get brown and crispy. Some spots will look extra crispy.
- Remove crust from the oven and set aside. Leave oven set to 375 degrees F.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped onions. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid onions from taking on too much color.
- Add the broccoli, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine, cover and cook over low heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more stirring frequently. Do not let the garlic brown.
- Spread half the cheddar cheese over the crust.
- Top with the vegetables and the remaining cheese.
- Beat together the milk and eggs and pour over the broccoli mixture.
- Sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set.
- Cool for 10 minutes and sprinkle top with reserved fresh basil before serving.