Stovetop Smashed Potatoes | With Creamy Lemon-Dill Tahini Dipping Sauce

As a youngster in the 1980s – like most kids then and now – I’d base my opinion of a restaurant almost exclusively on the way in which the food was packaged, and of equal importance, on the swag that accompanied the meal. This meant that fast food chains ranked very high in my list of top dining establishments, namely McDonald’s with it Happy Meals (anyone remember those highly-coveted Muppet Babies figurines?) and Burger King with its 3 packs of mini hamburgers aka ‘Burger Bundles’, which for all their frivolity were likely the prequel to the now omnipresent ‘slider’. I don’t recall particularly enjoying the food at these places; I was sold on them for the toys and whimsically-presented meals alone.
Tahini1
Back then I hadn’t yet acquired an awareness of the marketing tactics of fast food chains, hell bent as they are on getting kids addicted to bad-for-you foods via an assortment of crafty ploys, from gimmicky packaging and tie-ins to the latest TV show or blockbuster movie, to on-site ‘play places’ where kids can work off their soda-induced sugar highs. The guile and cunning of these companies really is extraordinary; I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out their marketing team include someone with a degree in child psychology – someone with the know-how to exploit the addictive potential of their young customers’ developing psyches!
Tahini2
Despite the cynicism I’ve acquired in adulthood about pretty much every aspect of fast food, I still recall with real fondness the experience of my parents taking me to eat at White Spot, a chain of burger joints exclusive to Western Canada. When I was little, White Spot earned my intense affection for its kids meal called the Pirate Pak, tantalizingly served in a cardboard schooner, complete with a sail impaled on a straw and best of all, a gold foil covered chocolate dubloon. Sure, the Pirate Pak was White Spot’s own little ruse to entice children to eat at their restaurants, but you have to admit it’s a pretty cool concept, and refreshingly void of any sort of corporate tie-in.
Tahini3
While in recent years White Spot has ditched its soda jerk vibe and morphed into a somewhat generic family restaurant, I still eat there regularly – if not for the atmosphere then for the delicious provolone-portobello veggie burger and cheap pints of Nat Bailey Pale Ale. Their brunches are also the best in town (I even requested to be taken their this past Mother’s Day). The smashed potatoes in this post (which are basically potatoes which have been boiled, flattened slightly, then pan-fried until crispy in a skillet) are my attempt to emulate the ones that are served alongside practically every item on the White Spot brunch menu.
Tahini4
While they’re great as a side dish for breakfast or brunch – I think they’d go particularly well with a frittata or omelette – the creamy lemon-dill tahini sauce I made to accompany them makes them a perfect appetizer or snack, too. Typically the thought of pairing something pan-friend with something creamy strikes me as a bit much – but here there’s not that much to feel guilty about, as the potatoes are fried using minimal oil, and the sauce’s creaminess comes from a blend of tahini and egg-free mayo. OK, it’s still not the saintliest of recipes, but I guarantee it’s better for you than a Happy Meal 🙂
Recipe: Stovetop Smashed Potatoes | With Creamy Lemon-Dill Tahini Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
Stovetop Smashed Potatoes
  • 16 red potatoes, scrubbed clean (choose potatoes that are no larger than 2″ in diameter)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Lemon-Dill Tahini Sauce

  • 1 medium garlic bulb
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare potatoes

  1. Place potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Let potatoes cook until tender all the way through, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Drain and set aside to cool.

Roast garlic for sauce

  1. While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Peel outmost layers of skin from garlic bulb.
  3. Place garlic on an approx. 6″ x 6″ piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Bundle aluminum foil tightly around garlic.
  5. Place in oven and roast until garlic cloves are soft, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Finish sauce

  1. Once garlic has cooled enough to handle, carefully remove skin from each clove (the clove should separate easily from the skin).
  2. Place garlic cloves in food processor along with tahini, vegan mayonaise, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Blend everything until completely smooth.
  4. Taste mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in minced dill.
  6. Cover and store in fridge until needed.

Finish potatoes

  1. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, flatten each one slightly. Do this by holding potato between your index finger and thumb of one hand and pressingly down gently with the heel of your other hand. Don’t press too hard or your potato will fall apart!
  2. After flattening each potato, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Once oil is hot, transfer your flattened potatoes to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Pan fry potatoes until crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove from heat and serve, topping each portion with a dollop or two of Creamy Lemon-Dill Tahini Sauce. Eat!

You might also like:

Red Quinoa, Roasted Beet and Pink Grapefruit Salad | With Hazelnuts and Balsamic Reduction

The Okanagan has been hit with numerous dumps of snow already this Winter – many more than the norm, or so I’ve been told. Over night at least 6 inches of the stuff came down – probably the most we’ve seen fall in one go – and I spent an hour this morning shovelling the RV pad like a champ – huffing and puffing onerously the whole time as I haven’t done any physical activity in months (apart from opening and closing the fridge door). Fortunately the snow was light and fluffy – not the cardiac arrest-inducing, wet and heavy kind – otherwise I’m sure I would have thrown in the towel (shovel?) half way through.

Beet1

There is only one Bobcat on site at the trailer part to keep the roads clear when it snows, and the last few weeks it’s been hard pressed to keep up with the demand. I witnessed a dramatic scene this morning as I sat gazing out the window while I drank my morning coffee – one brave sole had endeavoured forth in his golf cart before the roads had been cleared and found himself spinning his tires right in front of our RV. I froze for a moment, wondering if I should ask him if he needed a push, but moments later he managed to back up a few feet and accelerate forward with renewed vigour and was on his way once more.

Beet2

After being worked over by the snow shovel this morning I wish I’d kept some of this salad in reserve for lunch today – I actually made it over the weekend and it came together so perfectly we were seduced into eating it in one go. My boyfriend the omnivore even loved it, particularly the quinoa and beet components – he’s all into “super foods” now after watching a show on KCTS9 about the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based diet. Of course I’ve been telling him this stuff since we met but he actually believes me now that he’s heard it from a third party on public television 😉

Beets3

On top of looking pretty (I still can’t get over how amazing the intense pink of the grapefruit looks alongside the beets and the quinoa), this salad does everything a good salad should: tastes great, keeps you full for hours, and is super healthy to boot. Everyone already nows that quinoa is good for you, and red quinoa is no exception – it offers the same nutritional benefits as the white variety, but has a richer, more nutty flavour. Beets are high in folates and B-complex vitamins, and grapefruit is a great source of fibre, as well as anti-oxidants vitamin-A and vitamin-C. I added a handful of hazelnuts for some extra crunch, and shallots and fresh dill give a bright, fresh flavour to the salad. The syrupy, tart-yet-sweet balsamic reduction – drizzled on top before serving – is delicious, especially in combination with the earthy flavours of the quinoa and beets. This salad a great option if you’re looking to get your eating habits back on track after the holidays (who isn’t) – without feeling like you’re depriving yourself of the good stuff 🙂

Beets4

Recipe: Red Quinoa, Roasted Beet and Pink Grapefruit Salad | With Hazelnuts and Balsamic Reduction

Makes 2 meal-size salads

Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 1 small golden beet
  • 1 small red beet
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water (to cook quinoa)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts (I kept them whole but you can chop them if that’s your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1/2 small red grapefruit, cut into 1/2″ sections
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For balsamic reduction:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or your choice of vegan sweetener)

Method:

Prepare roasted beets: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut beets in half and wrap each half in aluminum foil. Place wrapped halves on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Roast for 30 minutes, or until beets are tender. Remove from oven, carefully open each aluminum package and set aside to cool. While beets are roasting, prepare quinoa.

Prepare quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Let cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Prepare balsamic reduction: In a small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey (or vegan sweetener) and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, or until liquid forms a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and set aside.

Finish salad: Once beets are cool enough to handle, peel away skin. Cut beets into 1/2″ cubes and place in a medium salad bowl. Add cooled quinoa, shallots, hazelnuts, grapefruit and dill. Gently toss to combine. Add olive oil to bowl and toss again. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve, topping each portion with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Eat!