10 Aug Smashed Potatoes with Tahini Sauce, Feta, Za’atar and Olives
When I lived in Israel many moons ago, I fell in love with many flavors of the middle east. The most memorable, though, has to be the Za’atar spice blend. A perfect mix of sumac, toasted sesame seeds, sea salt, and the herb Za’atar (a variety of wild thyme we often do not get here in the states so it is often substituted with greek oregano), Israelis put it on everything from baked goods to eggs to meats to pizza. My favorite of all Za’atar food vehicles was from a pizza place around the corner from me, a perfect pie consisting of mozzarella, feta, green olives, and za’atar (I must have consumed several hundred pounds worth in just half a year), and is the inspiration for this recipe.
Now, if you’ve followed me for a while you know that I’m majorly potato-obsessed (really, it’s the perfect food- you can do anything with them!), and these smashed potatoes have been my latest go-to spud recipe. Kind-of a mix between a baked potato and a potato skin, they are perfectly crispy on the outside while staying tender on the interior.
My ah-ha moment came today when I decided to magically re-mix these fave potatoes using the flavors of my favorite Jerusalem pizza paired with another Israeli favorite, a creamy tahini sauce (usually paired with falafel), to create some kind of crazy potato-falafel-nacho fries-potato skins-pizza concoction. The result: my mouth and I are pretty much the happiest in all of the land. And now, off to the gym.
- 2 pounds medium sized waxy-skinned potatoes
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tahini paste
- 1 tablespoon packed flat leaf parsely
- 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
- 1/4 cup feta cheese (vegans can leave this off and it's equally delicious)
- 1 tablespoon za'atar
- Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough cool water to cover by about an inch. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced by a fork and the skin is starting to break, about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.
- While potatoes are boiling, preheat oven to 475 and make your sauce.
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth.
- When potatoes are tender, drain well and pat dry. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Transfer potatoes to the lined baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Using the flat underside of a glass or measuring cup (if you have some cooking spray spray the bottom to keep if from sticking, or brush with olive oil), gently press down on each potato to flatten. The skin will crack but they will hold a circular shape (if they break apart just gently smush back together with your hands). The flatter you make them, the crispier they'll be. Drizzle the top with the desired amount of remaining olive oil (the more oil you use the crispier they'll get, but if you're going for healthy err on less oil) and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until the bottoms are crispy and golden and the tops are crunchy.
- Plate, drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with za'atar, and crumble feta and olives on top. Serve piping hot and with extra sauce on the side!
- The most authentic Za'atar I've found can be ordered online from Whole Spice in Napa Valley, where the use the real za'atar herb. You can order it here: http://wholespice.com/a-z/z/za-atar-spice-blend.html (make sure to get the spice blend, not the herb). You can also find it in almost any kosher or middle eastern market, in Whole Foods by the brand Spicely, and at Penzeys Spices in stores or online here: https://www.penzeys.com/catalog/product.aspx?catalog=24&product=486 . Or if you want to go all homemade: here's a recipe for making it at home: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/how-to-make-za-atar-spice-at-home