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Potato Spinach Fongos with Cheese Recipe

July 12, 2022 | by Orge Castellano

Try this perfect example of Latin American Jewish fusion.

The word fongo comes from Judeo-Spanish or Ladino, and it means mushroom. The Iberian Jews who settled in the Ottoman Empire developed this dish by merging their food knowledge from medieval Spain with local ingredients and customs. The exact origin of this recipe is unknown but is probably based on Fritada de ispinaka (spinach frittata), a typical staple dish the Sephardim eat during Shabbat and on Passover in the Jewish Community in Venice. Also called Fongo or Fiongo, this delectable treat comes from Smyrna, Turkey arriving in the Americas largely thanks to Jewish immigrants from this ancient, enigmatic city, albeit also by the hands of Jews from the island of Rhodes and Thessaloniki who shared the recipe with their Jewish counterparts in the Latin American Jewish communities that welcomed them.

Did you know that according to Kabbalah many neuroses and personality imbalances are rooted in unmindful eating? There are great physical, mental and spiritual benefits to eating slowly and with intention. Get more Jewish food thoughts here.

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of fresh spinach, washed and finely chopped
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup cooking cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

1. Wash the spinach very well and then pat it dry with cloth or paper towels to absorb all the water. Chop it into fine pieces and transfer it to a bowl.

2. Boil the potatoes in their skins in hot water for about 20 minutes or until they are soft when pierced with a fork. Then remove the skins and mash them in a separate bowl.

3. Add the butter and cottage cheese to the bowl of potatoes and mash to a smooth puree.

4. Mix the spinach with the heavy cream, three-quarters of the mashed potatoes, one cup of the grated Parmesan cheese, the cottage cheese, and the ricotta cheese, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Beat the 4 eggs and add to the spinach mixture.

6. Pour the mixture into an oiled round or square baking (9 or 10in) pan with a minimum height of 2.5 inches.

7. Make a few small wells near the perimeter of the baking pan and insert the remaining mashed potatoes inside, creating a sort of mushroom shape. Then top each mushroom with a bit of butter and grate some Parmesan cheese on top.

8. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes at 375°F (185°C) until the frittata is set, then increase the temperature to 400°F (200°C) for about five minutes or until the mushrooms are golden brown.

9. Serve cold, cut into wedges with pickles or a Greek salad.




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