In my family, we take two things pretty seriously: Easter brunch and the Easter egg hunt. Not only does Easter get me excited about spring, but also quality family time and a killer meal.
For the egg hunt, we do a mixture of plastic and real dyed eggs, and we recently added the very exciting golden egg. My brother-in-law started this tradition with our family. The golden egg is a plastic egg with money in it. For kids under the age of 10, anything more than $1 is big money, so the kids get serious. I mean, come on, egg hunting is serious business! And it makes you seriously hungry.
For the meal, I always make a scalloped potato casserole dish because I know it's something everyone will eat. This dish manages to be both kid-friendly and sophisticated. This time I layered basil pesto in the casserole for something special. The pesto gives the dish a welcome freshness that really does make me feel like spring is here. Then I topped the whole thing with sliced tomatoes after the potatoes were mostly done baking, which added an amazing mellow sweetness to play off the pesto.
My secret to the perfect scalloped potatoes is slicing the potatoes really thinly and evenly, which you can achieve by using a mandolin slicer or your food processor.
And my other secret is PAM Cooking Spray. To minimize post-meal scrubbing, spray PAM Cooking Spray on your casserole dish before layering in the ingredients. We get the whole crew in on the cleanup, and PAM Cooking Spray keeps the washing up quick and easy, so we can focus on the fun (hello, egg hunt!).
PAM Cooking Spray leaves *99% less residue than leading brands of margarine or bargain-brand cooking sprays, so your dishes will turn out great and you’ll spend less time cleaning up and more time with your family.
Sounds pretty good to me.
Baked Scalloped Potato Casserole with Pesto
For the basil and arugula pesto:
PAM Canola Oil Cooking Spray
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup arugula
1/4 cup parsley
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
For the scalloped potato casserole:
PAM Original Cooking Spray
3 to 4 large unpeeled Russet potatoes; washed and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (for best results, use a mandolin slicer)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Gruyère or Parmesan cheese, divided
5 to 6 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 to 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
Light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
Make the pesto: Coat your food processor with PAM Canola Oil Cooking Spray. Combine the basil, arugula, parsley, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly combined. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse again until smooth. Season with salt, taste and adjust any ingredients as necessary. Remove from food processor and set aside.
Make the scalloped potato casserole: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with PAM Original Cooking Spray. Arrange one layer of the potato slices at the bottom of the casserole dish in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the potatoes with a thin layer of the pesto and sprinkle on about a 1/4 cup of the Gruyère or Parmesan cheese. Repeat this process two more times.
Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost cooked through. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and top with the tomato slices, overlapping the tomatoes slightly to create a pretty pattern. Top the tomatoes with the garlic, a very light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the breadcrumbs, fresh thyme and the remaining 1/4 cup of gruyère cheese. Put the casserole back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
Turn your oven up to broil (full broil at 500 degrees) and then broil for 2 to 3 minutes, keeping a close eye on your oven to ensure the casserole does not burn. This helps to create the nice, golden crust on top. Let cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with a fresh and light arugula salad. Enjoy!
*Versus a leading brand of margarine, leading bargain brand of canola-oil cooking spray, and vegetable-oil cooking spray, after baked at 400° F for 30 minutes, cooled, and washed in one regular dishwasher cycle
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