I’ve been working from home a lot lately. I find that an office has this amazing superpower of zapping my ability to think and melting away all my motivation into a goopy puddle on the floor. I know it’s not for everybody, but I’m much more able to concentrate when sitting at my dining room table – with the occasional foray to a coffee shop for a little jolt of energy, noise, and company. Obviously with the amazing internet-ization, webification, and telecommunication of modern working, more and more people are able to work from home. In the not so distant future, many offices may become obsolete. Even Daniel Schorr (the super old and brilliant dude on NPR) has noticed. And if he comments on it, then it is a serious cultural phenomenon.
I wonder what sorts of ripple effects such a shift to working at home might have (one could even call it a shift back to working at home, since for a lot of history people did work out of their homes, or pretty close to it. At least they didn’t go sit in cubicles). Will we lose our connection to our colleagues and become more isolated within our own homes than ever? Or maybe, without an invisible chain linking us to our cubes and computers, we will stop idling away our time playing solitaire and checking blogs (never!!! They’re far too interesting and informative . ) updating our virtual statuses. Maybe we will be able to work when we are feeling most productive and use the rest of our time to connect with our communities again. Maybe neighbors will visit each other for afternoon walking breaks in local parks, and we can run our errands at small shops close to home. Hmmm. I’m probably just dreaming. Hopefully, though, we would at least get back to taking time to prepare a proper lunch. This is one of my favorite perks of working from home. Instead of sandwiches or cold leftovers every single livelong day, I roll up my sleeves, grab my knives and prepare a little something new. Or at least gussy up my leftovers. Which is how I created this lovely vegetable pyttipanna (that would be Norwegian for “pieces in a pan”, ie. a sort of hash). I had a number of cooked vegetable odds and ends from various suppers, and I decided not to bother complicating anything, but instead just sautéed it all together, highlighting the natural earthiness and sweetness of all the vegetables. Then I topped it with a dollop of similarly sweet and mild ricotta cheese (also a leftover!). It was simple, but it was a case study in how simple is often by far the best. Warm and delicious, it left me feeling quite happy and nourished and ready to dive back into work.
You could make this with any number of leftover root vegetables and other veg, but here is what you would need to recreate what I had. Making it from scratch (rather than fromleftovers) would not take very long at all, so you could have it as a lovely warm lunch or a quick and delicious light supper! To make it a more traditional pyttipanna, just perch a fried egg on top – if you keep the yolk soft, it will run and mix deliciously with the vegetables.
End of Winter Mixed Vegetable Pyttipanna with Ricotta (serves 2)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 small, or one medium-large potato (preferably an interesting variety, not Russet)
- 1 onion
- ½ sweet bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
- 1 cup packed spinach or other cooking green, washed and chopped with stems removed
- Ricotta cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 425F. Wash the sweet and regular potatoes and peel off any bits of the skin that are icky. Cut the potatoes into about ½ to 1 inch chunks (smaller for faster cooking!), toss with olive oil and salt, spread out in a baking pan, and roast, stirring once or twice, until browned on the outside and tender when stuck with a fork, about 25-30 minutes.
- In the meantime, peel and chop the onion and chop the bell pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat a generous Tablespoon of olive oil until it shimmers in a large frying pan then add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped bell pepper, stir, and cook another 5 minutes. Turn down to low and allow to cook until the vegetables are cooked through.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven.
- Turn the frying pan up to medium, and add the spinach (or other greens) and stir a couple of minutes until wilted. Then stir in the potato mix. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Dish the vegetables into a bowl, then top with very generous dollops (about ¼ cup, I’d say) of ricotta cheese. If you’d like to add a little more cheesy sharpness, add a little grated parmesan or cheddar or feta crumbles on top. Stir the cheese into the vegetables as you eat them. Yum, yum. Though I wanted to keep it simple and focus on the flavors of the vegetables, this hash would also lend itself well to any sort of extra flavors you’re in the mood for – rosemary, thyme, dill, curry, any variety of chopped fresh herbs…The world is your bowl of potatoes!