While visiting Idaho potato country for the potato harvest, one of the most fascinating stops was the Idahoan dehydration plant. We watched the potatoes get peeled, cooked, mashed – and then this is the best part – rolled out on massive dryers that turned the potatoes into massive, paper-thin sheets. From there the sheets were shredded into tiny pieces that become what we know of as potato flakes.
But how many people really know about potato flakes? Potato flakes were a pantry staple 40 or 50 years ago when fresh food was harder to come by on a regular basis and long-term storage was important, but now many home cooks seem to choose fresh potatoes or prepared potato products. Most of the people we’ve talked with since our trip to Idaho either 1) don’t keep potato flakes in their pantry; and/or 2) have never cooked with potato flakes before.
In the Jolly Tomato house, we don’t use potato flakes often, but there is one recipe that we’ve been eating since we were kids that absolutely requires potato flakes (for some reason it just doesn’t taste the same with regular mashed potatoes). That recipe is Swedish Potato Casserole, a recipe of unknown origin that Jolly Tomato’s mom got from a friend who got it from a friend, and so on, back in the 1970s. We’ve since changed up the recipe a bit (fresh spinach instead of frozen, butter instead of margarine), but we’ve kept the potato flakes as they give this casserole the best texture and taste combination. It’s the perfect combination of creamy and savory – and we can always count on the kids to lick their plates clean. Try it and let us know what you think.
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ½ cup milk
- 1½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground pepper
- 5 cups (plain, unflavored) potato flakes
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1 tsp. dried dill
- 1 tsp. dried chives
- 10 ounces spinach, cleaned and steamed
- Boil the water and then pour it into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, milk, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the potato flakes and beat with a hand mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the sour cream, dill, and chives.
- Drain the spinach and finely chop it. Stir it into the potato mixture until combined. Add the entire mixture to a large greased 2-quart casserole dish. (At this point you may bake it or refrigerate it up to a day until you are ready to bake it.) Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve immediately. Serves 10 to 12.