Spud Sunday: Potato Dipping

My garden is full of surprises.

One day last month, when I was moved to do a bit of tidying up outside, I found this:

Romanesco Cauliflower

That's one funny lookin' Christmas tree...

Having long ago resigned myself to the fact that the romanesco cauliflower I had planted earlier this year had come to naught, there it was, a single specimen, presenting its wonderfully fractal head for inspection. At times like these, you really have to hand it to Mother Nature.

I was as pleased as punch with my discovery, but, very quickly, a dilemma ensued: how to do justice to this prince of brassicas? A vegetable that’s somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli, with a faintly nutty taste and good raw or cooked.

It seemed to me that, in fact, I should do as little as possible. The romanesco was harvested, split into individual spiky florets and presented for consumption with a creamy, nutty, garlicky and potato-y dip. Justice was done.

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Skordalia – a Greek Potato and Almond Dip

Skordalia

This recipe comes to me by way of the Reluctant Gourmet and his e-book of Great Potato Recipes. I am, of course, always interested when books of potato recipes come my way (and yes, I own several) and this e-book, with over 100 recipes and some solid spudly advice, more than holds its own in their company.

Though there were many recipes in the book that I wanted to try, the one that really caught my eye was this one for Skordalia, a Greek dip involving garlic, potatoes and almonds.

Yes, a dip with potatoes. It’s not such an outrageous idea for a spud.

I had actually seen a different version of the same dish recently over at Noble Pig, so it seemed like it was high time to give it a try. I was very glad I did. Nutty, garlicky and very more-ish. It complemented the romanesco very nicely, though you could, of course, dip other crisp veggies or pita bread into it too. I daresay you could spread some of this onto a piece of crusty bread and complete the sandwich with some leftover Christmas meats if you felt so inclined. Whip up a bowl or two if you’re doing some yuletide entertaining, you’ll not regret it.

I have adapted the recipe slightly, by giving the almonds a light toasting. I also didn’t have marcona almonds, which the recipe suggests, but I didn’t let that put me off.

You’ll need:
  • 1 small head of garlic
  • olive oil for roasting the garlic
  • 100g almonds
  • 450g potatoes, preferably a floury variety
  • 6 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g natural yoghurt (or add 50g more for a softer consistency)
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp coarse salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
You’ll also need:
  • A potato ricer is handy for mashing the potatoes, as is a spice grinder or food processor for grinding the almonds and blending the oil and garlic.
The Steps:
  • Preheat your oven to 200C.
  • Remove the outer layer of papery skin from the garlic and slice off the top of the head, just to expose the cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil and pour about a tblsp of olive oil over the exposed clove. Roast for around 35 minutes or until the cloves are completely soft and, meanwhile prepare the almonds and potatoes.
  • Spread the almonds on a baking tray and place in your hot oven for around 5 minutes or so. Remove, allow to cool a little and grind finely using a spice grinder or food processor.
  • Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Bring about 1l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 1 tsp salt and the potato slices. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 15-20 minutes or until just fork-tender. Alternatively, you can steam the potatoes until they reach the same stage.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain well and return them to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
  • Put the dried and still-warm potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl, or mash gently in the bowl using a masher.
  • Blend together the olive oil and roasted garlic cloves, add to the potatoes and mix to combine.
  • Then add the yoghurt, lemon juice, ground toasted almonds, with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Add more yoghurt if you want a softer consistency. Serve warm or at room temperature with pita bread or fresh, crispy veggies (and romanesco if you’ve got it).
The Variations:
  • This works just as well with almonds that are simply blanched and not toasted.
The Results:
  • Dip for 6-8 festive guests
Comments
  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daily Spud, Kitchen Goddess. Kitchen Goddess said: RT @DailySpud: …and you thought that potatoes were more chips than dips? http://su.pr/42AvMw [...]

  • Romanesco is so pretty, it’s a shame we don’t see more of it. This dip looks great.

  • I love Romanesco, it is so pretty in comparison to a lot of other vegetables. The dip looks fantastic, such a great use for the humble spud.

  • I love this dip! A Greek restaurant here in Austin serves it with their calamari and it is perfect. Thanks for the recipe, I’m making this soon.

  • Potato dip. I love it. I don’t think I’ve seen the romanesco cauliflower before. That’s really cool. I’ll have to keep an eye for those.

  • I would love to “find” something actually growing in my garden this time of year. How cool to just happen upon that gorgeous veg. What a beautiful combination!

  • What an amazing discovery – isn’t that just wonderful? This dip sounds wonderful – anything with almonds (apart from marzipan and frangipane) are must-trys. And super lovely photos too!

  • I love surprises like that, I’d have skipped all the way back to my kitchen if i found one.

    The potato dip sounds like the perfect compliment to such a gift from Mother Nature. Can’t wait to try it out for myself, although my gifts usually come via boxes from the CSA.

  • How wonderful to find the Romanesco cauliflower in your garden, so pretty! The dip sounds amazing, I’m definitely trying it very soon!

  • This is a great way to honor these bright green beauties. I think they lose a little of themselves when cooked. GREG PS I really came here for your roasties as I am making an attempt at perfection with them tomorrow when my cousin come to town! GREG

  • Romanesco is such a gorgeous vegetable. It does taste fabulous raw, I tried my first sample of it last spring at Montreal’s Jean Talon market. And fabulous flavors in that dip, looks super creamy!

  • Sarah: thanks, it really is a striking vegetable – I’d love to be able to grow more than one head of it at a time!

    George: romanesco is a looker, no doubt about that, and it pleases me greatly that I’ve found yet another use for the mighty (if humble) spud

    Sharon: Thanks for dropping in! I must look out for this dip myself the next time I’m in a Greek restaurant (though they’re a bit thin on the ground in Ireland!) – sounds like the dip would indeed be excellent with calamari.

    jenn: well, you’ll certainly know romanesco when you see it – it’s almost alien looking (at least I somehow imagine that if they grew veg on Mars, that they might look a bit like romanesco!)

    Kristen: thanks – I got very excited when I found it; I clearly had not been out to the garden in weeks and the leaves of the plant are so huge that you would have to be standing right over it to actually see the head;

    Kitchen Butterfly: Thank you! It was a lovely little discovery – brightened up that day no end – and the dip, yep, that’s certainly worth a try.

    OysterCulture: gifts from CSA boxes are good too :) enjoy the dip!

    Natasha: Yep, very pretty indeed! Hope you like the dip.

    sippitysup: I think you’re right, they do shine best in their natural state – and good luck with the roasties, I look forward to hearing how you get on!

    Phyllis: it’s certainly more flavoursome than regular cauliflower and was clearly one of the vegetables at the front of the queue when they were handing out looks and taste :D

  • What a striking vegetable! I have never seen one of these before. The dip sounds out of this world good.

  • What a wonderful surprise! Mother Nature is indeed a giver of gifts – even belated ones! I love, love Skordalia and this one looks excellent. I’d say you more than did your little miracle justice, Spud!

  • I have seen this specimen and look forward to trying it one day! I remember planting edible flowers and such to find them not as they should have been, but coming up much later and a beautiful surprise as I came out the door to inspect other yardley duties…

  • What a nice surprise. I had never eaten this interesting looking veggie until a few months ago, in Brazil of all places. I hadn’t seen it around at all and it showed up on my plate at a restaurant one day. :) This dip sounds so great. Perfect match.

  • Phoo-D: it really is striking indeed and worth a try if you should ever come across it

    Diva: thanks, I now count myself as a love, love, lover of Skordalia too!

    Chef E: Mother Nature’s like that, isn’t she? We can plant and nurture but sometimes she just wants to do things her way!

    Lori: I only came across romanesco in the last couple of years. I’d certainly never seen it before that, but it’s the kind of thing that you’d remember seeing! It’s definitely a great match for the dip.

  • A very nice version of Skordalia, roasted garlic would make it sublime. If you really want to splurge, try it with pine nuts!

  • The Romanesco cauliflower looks so cute. I always admire the life in your garden. It’s like a different small world of plants. And the potato dipping sounds so yummy with yogurt, garlic and almonds. I love all of them. YUM!

  • Peter: Thanks so much for dropping by! I can certainly see how pine nuts would up the ante on the skordalia, I will have to give them a go…

    zerrin: The garden certainly is a whole other world, always full of little surprises and the romanesco was a particularly nice one to get :)

  • I finally discovered this wonderful veg for myself at the Farmer’s Market this summer and am enthralled with its shape and flavor. Now I can’t wait until the weather warms up again so I can try it with your dipping sauce.

  • It is indeed a wonderful addition to the vegetable world, TN. Do give this one a go next time you’re in the mood for dipping crunchy, wierdly shaped veg!

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