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:
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.
Skordalia – a Greek Potato and Almond Dip
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- This works just as well with almonds that are simply blanched and not toasted.
- Dip for 6-8 festive guests