This tasty bake is well loved in the Sephardic cuisine (check HERE for information about it), and is traditionally served for Saturday brunch. The bake is usually served with Tzatziki (recipe can be found HERE), hard boiled eggs and fresh vegetables or vegetable salad. Another tasty option is to serve it with a bit of date or maple syrup. The combination of sweet and salty is addictive.
The unique presentation, made by separating the potato-cheese mixture and creating the patties on top, also adds different textures and flavors to the bake.
“Fongos”, the name in Ladino, is supposed to describe this special presentation. I’ve found two explanations for its meaning: one points at the similarity to “fungus” and that the patties looks like mushroom caps; the other claims it came from the “nests” the patties are put in. I’m not sure which one is the accurate one, but I like them both, as much as I like this bake.
I’m sure you’ll like it too, once you’ll try it.
A few notes:
* The original recipe calls for spinach. You can try both and decide which one you prefer.
* Quark cheese is fresh low fat cheese, with smooth and creamy texture. I use the Israeli one (called “Gvina Levana”), which can be found in Kosher stores and is very creamy, but any other will do. If you can’t find it, substitute with sour cream.
* The potatoes are cooked in their skin, and drained quickly, so they will not absorb too much water and be too moist to form the patties.
* If you plan to serve the bake with other dishes, you can make the patties smaller and cut the bake into 6-8 portions.
Makes: 4 (see notes)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
4 medium potatoes, unpeeled
2 large Swiss chard bundles
1 tsp salt
2 XL eggs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 oz (140 grams) Feta cheese
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
8.8 oz (250 grams) 9% fat Quark cheese (see notes), or sour cream
1. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 25 minutes, until they are soft. Drain and cool to room temperature. Peel, mash and measure 2 cups mashed potatoes.
2. Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly. Remove the white stems (use in THIS tasty salad) and cut roughly. Place in a shallow pot while still wet, add 1 tsp salt and mix. Cover the pot and steam over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until soft. Cool to room temperature and measure 1 cup.
3. Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Line a 9.5” (24cm) square pan with baking paper.
4. Place the mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Add 1 egg, salt, black pepper, feta cheese, parmesan cheese and ¾ of the Quark cheese. Mix well.
Remove ¼ of the mixture to another bowl. Add the Swiss chard to the bowl, along with the extra egg and leftover Quark cheese and mix well. Transfer to the pan, level the top with a spatula, and create four “nests” in the mixture with the back of a spoon. Create four patties from the leftover potato-cheese mix and place one in each “nest”.
5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bake is set and patties are golden. Let cool a bit before cutting.