Sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit. Take a different route to work. Try a new shade of lipstick. Hop a plane and just go. If these ideas seem too wild and crazy, how about just cook potatoes in a different way?
We get so used to roasting, boiling, baking and mashing them, but if you’ve never tried smashing them, you’re in for a tasty surprise.
Smashed potatoes are heaven for us carb lovers. They are crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, and make an excellent vehicle for tangy sauce or melty cheese. The key is to use baby potatoes — I like the yellow ones — and to not overcook them when boiling. You want them to be tender — use a fork to pierce — but not falling apart. If they do fall apart, you might as well mash them.
Once the potatoes are boiled, drain them and pat dry. Line a baking sheet with parchment and drizzle it with olive oil. Now comes the smashing bit. Use the palm of your hand and gently smash the potato so it is thin. The thinner the tater, the crispier it will be. If your potatoes are plenty hot, use a clean dish towel as a go-between.
Once the potatoes are all smashed, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt. More oil increases the crispy factor, but also fat, so you do what is best for you. Roast for about 20-25 minutes until they are golden and gorgeous and serve with your favourite dipping sauce, or sprinkle with cheese and place back in oven to melt. Cooked, chopped bacon added to these is also a good idea. Add some sour cream and chopped chives and you are good to go.
For something totally different, I recommend serving the potatoes with this zesty tahini sauce. It’s lively in all the right places, thanks to the roasted garlic and lemon juice, and if you’ve never cooked with the Middle Eastern spice za’atar, this is a good place to start.
Za’atar is a blend of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, salt and other spices. I love adding it to salads, sandwich fillings, on top of eggs, in meatballs, you name it. I sprinkled some on top of these potatoes after they came out of the oven and the result was excellent.
You can find za’atar in most major supermarkets in the International Foods aisle or tucked in with the spices. I found mine at No Frills — a large container for $9. Deal of the day! If you have leftover tahini sauce, it’s delicious when drizzled over roasted carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli. Once you make the sauce, you’ll want to drizzle it over all the things.
Smashed Potatoes with Tahini Sauce and Za’atar
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 Tbsp plus 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp za’atar
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp za’atar
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1. To make the dressing, preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice the top off the garlic and place the bulb on a small sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and wrap up tightly. Place in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, until the garlic is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool until it’s barely warm. Squeeze the garlic pulp into the blender. Add the remaining olive oil, water, tahini, lemon juice, parsley, za’atar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. While the garlic is roasting, place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough cool water to cover by about an inch. Add 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
3. Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Increase the oven temperature to 450 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Transfer the potatoes to the baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Using the palm of your hand (I like to have a clean dish towel in between the potatoes and my hand) gently press down on each potato to flatten. The skin will crack, but they should still hold their circular shape. The flatter you make them, the crispier they will be. Drizzle the tops of the potatoes with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes, until the bottoms are crispy and the tops are golden.
4. Arrange the crispy smashed potatoes on a platter and drizzle with some of the sauce and sprinkle with parsley and green onions. Serve immediately. Makes four servings.
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