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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!

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Miso-Tahini Buckwheat Soba Noodle Bowl

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m suffering from a bit of a bad-eating hangover this week. Last weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada, and as I do every year succeeded in completely overindulging my taste for that delicious yet lifespan-shortening trifecta: sugar, salt and butter. My descent into overindulgence started out slow: a handful of chips here, a dollop of whipped cream there. By the end of the weekend, which saw me blatantly pig out on pumpkin pie and an assortment of other festive treats, I found myself craving junk food more and more. I heard this phenomenon referred to somewhere as the ‘sugar wheel,’ as it seems to happen most strikingly with sweets, but I find the same thing tends to occur with salty and fatty foods, too. Basically what happens is this: You increase your intake of unhealthy foods, then soon enough you don’t feel satisfied without eating said foods, so you eat them again, and want them even more. And on and on. It plays out the same way as any addiction, really. Has this ever happened to you?

I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about it. Typically my diet is fairly clean and it was Thanksgiving, after all. In the past when I’ve gone through an episode of unhealthy eating I find the only thing that puts me back on track is cutting myself off entirely from junk food until the cravings cease. It takes some will power, but by replacing the refined sugars with naturally-occurring ones, and the bad fats with healthy fats, it can be done. Further to my mission to detox my system this week, I put together this noodle bowl today for lunch. There is nothing like a big colourful bowl of vegetables to erase the memory of a gluttonous weekend and restore faith in your diet!

I love using grated raw beets in salads and noodle dishes like this one. I initially got the idea from a salad on the menu at Rebar, a mostly-vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, BC. Grating purple beets is guaranteed to turn your fingers a brilliant shade of magenta (unless you wear gloves or use a food processor) but the disfigurement is totally worth it. I threw in some grated golden beets, too. These ones won’t stain your skin!

Don’t feel compelled to use only the vegetables listed below in your noodle bowl. The miso-tahini sauce would work well with practically any vegetable or vegetarian protein! Steamed or sauteed broccoli and/or cauliflower would have done the trick. Or how about some sweet peas and shiitake mushrooms? Cubed tempeh or tofu would also have been nice. The options are endless!

Recipe: Miso-Tahini Buckwheat Soba Noodle Bowl

Makes 2 meal-size servings

Ingredients:

  • 180g buckwheat soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 florets baby bok choy, ends removed
  • 1/2 cup grated purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup grated golden beet
  • 1/2 cup grated purple beet
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas

Miso-Tahini Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon honey (vegan alternative: agave syrup, maple syrup or cane sugar)

Method:

Prepare noodles: Cook soba noodles according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Prepare baby bok choy: In a skillet over medium heat, saute baby bok choy in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until bright green and tender crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare miso-tahini sauce: In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, whisk together tahini, miso paste, olive oil, water, Sriracha and honey (or vegan alternative), until smooth. Once sauce has warmed through (try not to allow to boil), remove from heat.

Assemble noodle bowls: Fold noodles into miso-tahini sauce then divide into two serving bowls. Top each bowl with baby bok choy, grated beets, carrots and cabbage, sliced red peppers and chickpeas. Eat!