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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brunch, Lunch, Supper--A Flexible and Fast Main Dish



Potatoes O'Brien is a dish found on many coffee shop menus, while Lyonnaise Potatoes may appear on the breakfast listings at a little more upscale hotel restaurant. Whatever the name, these usually have a similar base, sliced (occasionally diced) potatoes sauteed with some onion and, in the case of the O'Brien version, bell peppers. Most often, these will be offered as a side dish, with eggs cooked to your preference along with toast, English muffin, or bagel. Often, bacon, sausage, or ham are also loaded onto the already crowded plate. These potatoes may also be a side dish for a three (!) egg omelet loaded with all kinds of other goodies, like the afore-mentioned breakfast meats, lots of wonderfully gooey cheese, etc.

Oy.

When cooked in a lot of fat, added to an already calorie and fat-heavy meal and then with the redundant carbs of one of those bread choices, this potato dish can seem anything but healthy.

However, the version I'm including today can actually be a good choice for a quick meal anytime of the day.  A few ways to move it into the category of a welcome choice:
  • Make this the only carb choice--no need for toast or other bread-y additions
  • Reduce the amount of fat used for the potatoes--not at all hard if you start with a nonstick or (best of all) well-seasoned cast iron skillet
  • Use eggs as your source of protein (Read the NOTE below the recipe to see more on this)
  • Potatoes are high on many glycemic indices, but keep the peeling on. Treat them as the carb part of the meal, not as one of your vegetable servings and you'll be okay. That's why this dish, loaded up with lots of veggies--squash or carrots and lots of onion and bell pepper--works well nutritiously
  • Add a glass of milk and some fresh fruit in season for a completely balanced meal
 The following recipe takes all of these steps into account, resulting in a warm and friendly meal that can be prepared quickly and inexpensively.

Potato Eggs O'Brien

These amounts are for one to two servings. Multiply as needed for the number of people you are feeding.

1 T canola or olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large potato, scrubbed (but not peeled) and sliced (about 2 cups)
1/4 to 1/3 c diced bell pepper--if possible, use green and red for maximum color appeal
1 c lightly cooked butternut squash, cubed OR
1 c sliced or diced carrot (about 1 medium)
2 eggs
seasoning salt and cayenne (or black) pepper, to taste

1.  Saute onion in oil over medium to high heat for about 5 minutes, while you are preparing the other vegetables.

2.  Add the potatoes (and carrots, if using these instead of squash) and continue cooking about 5 minutes, until the potatoes are golden on the bottom. Turn and sprinkle with a small amount of seasoning salt and pepper. Cover and continue cooking about 5 more minutes. Stir and add the bell pepper and squash, cover again and continue cooking until the potatoes are just tender.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium/low and push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, opening an area in the center. Continue cooking in one of the following ways:

For eggs "sunny side up":  Break the eggs into this cleared area, sprinkle with a few drops of water, and cover the pan. Continue cooking until the eggs are set.

For eggs scrambled into the rest of the mixture:  Lightly mix the eggs with a fork and pour into the center. As they begin to set, gently stir the eggs into the vegetables, coating all lightly. Cook until all parts of the egg are set.

May serve with salsa, ketchup, and/or plain yogurt as desired.


NOTE:
Eggs?  For many of us who remember the decades of warnings against eating any eggs at all, the moves toward bringing these back into the acceptable nutrition category may be hard to get used to. However, there are now well-grounded studies that show eggs can be valuable--and very inexpensive--additions to a well-balanced diet. No, three fried eggs every day for breakfast will never again be seen as good, but you can easily eat eggs a few times a week without any fear of problems. (NOTE: For a few people, eggs are still a problem; if your doctor has indicated they are not for you, do heed his or her advice!)

The key is, as with all foods, keeping the preparation as healthy as possible. If you choose to accompany your eggs with high fat "breakfast" meats or you always choose cooking methods that also include cheese (omelets, frittatas, etc.), the problem will not be with the eggs!

Bottom line:  If you are one of those people who find an egg with a side  "home fries" or "hash browns" one of life's guilty pleasures, enjoy this version, guilt-free.


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