Last summer, I visited Switzerland with my family. Beyond chocolate and neutrality, I didn’t really know what to expect, especially in terms of cuisine. Well we ate lots of delicious food, both French and German, but at every meal, the star of the show was rösti. Considered the de facto national dish of Switzerland, rösti is a basically a potato pancake. Grated potatoes are pan-fried (or sometimes baked) in either oil or butter, and typically served as a contorno, or side dish, at the meal. Sometimes cheese or bacon or some additional ingredients are added, at the discretion of the chef, but traditionally rösti is a one-man-show, consisting solely of potatoes.

I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of a dish made solely from potatoes, but sadly, my jeans are not. Out of deference to my waistline, I decided to add some grated zucchini to the situation. I invited some dill, salt, and the teeniest splash of olive oil and called it a day. Had I remembered to, I also would have added some minced garlic – I definitely will next time! I toyed with the idea of pan-frying them, but then what was the point of adding the zucchini, right?

Into the oven they went, and they came out delicious. Slightly burnt crispy on the outside, softer and chewier in the middle – not exactly like Switzerland, but they did the trick! The zucchini was a grate idea (had to), it melded perfectly with the potato, and added a nice splash of color to the whole affair.

Next time, I will probably pile each pancake a little higher, since they flattened out more than I was expecting them to. I ate these (plus a kiwi) for dinner, but they would be great with breakfast too – maybe with a nice poached egg on top? My extreme hunger and lack of forethought prevented me this time, but next time I’ll also combine some Greek yogurt with some lemon and dill to serve alongside these bad boys.

Now I’m going to share some behind-the-scenes footage, because I’ve told people that my kitchen is small, but I don’t know if words do it justice. I’m weirdly proud of how tiny the space is, take a look:

This is my kitchen. I’ve got a sink, two stovetops, and some shelves. The most sophisticated tool in there is a grater (check it out, its hanging above the sink), and there is no oven. The fridge is one of those cabinets at the bottom.

I am actually starting to really like cooking here. Having such restricted space and no tools I’m used to, like an electric mixer or a food processor (or even a real oven), forces me to do stuff the old-fashioned way, which I love. If I want fluffy egg whites, I’m going to have to earn them. If I want pie crust, I’m cutting the butter into the flour by hand (which is really the best way to do it anyways). And having such a small fridge (made even smaller by the fact that anything on the top shelf will actually freeze, meaning no eggs or yogurt may live there) forces me to plan ahead. Everything in there is there for a reason. I know what every item in that fridge is going to be when it grows up. The zucchini and red pepper are going to be a Thai stir-fry, the mozzarella is going to be a pizza, the giant bottle of Diet Coke is going to be the death of me, and so on.

But I still needed an oven. Luckily I had a microwave, but an oven was a necessity.

Enter the toaster oven – one of the first things I bought when I got here. Not much bigger than a shoebox, but it does the trick! Did you not see the rösti?? They were totally well-rösted! This kitchen is tiny but effectual, and I’ve never had more fun creating yummy food!

And yes, my toaster oven doubles as a breadbox.

Potato-Zucchini Rösti Recipe

  • 1 yellow potato, peeled
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Grate the potato and zucchini into a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine.

Form patties of desired size on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°.

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