This week on Good Food Evan interviews Erik Cosselmon, Executive Chef at Kokkari in San Francisco. They discuss dry versus fresh oregano, Greek mezze, yayas and what part of Greece produces the best olive oil.
This recipe for Beets Roasted Cretan Style with Skordalia makes use of Greece’s most pungent condiment – skordalia. Skordalia’s signature ingredient is garlic, and lots of it. This recipe incorporates almonds, garlic, potatoes, bread and olive oil into a creamy paste that will ward off the most persistant vampire.
Keep reading for the full recipe…
Beets Roasted Cretan Style with Skordali
(From Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors by Erik Cosselmon and Janet Fletcher)
Our Greek customers are always ordering skordalia to go with our beet salad, so we finally put the two dishes together. Choose beets with perky greens – a sign the beets are fresh – and reserve the greens for borta. To get the stains off yoru hands after peeling the beets, wash with baking soda. We like to serve the beets warm, but you can make them ahead and serve them chilled, a good idea on a hot day.
1 ½ pounds beets of any color (weight without greens), about 6
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 large sprig fresh thyme
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ to 1 cup skordalia (see below)
Coarsely chopped fresh dill for garnish
Thinly sliced scallions for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If the beet greens are attached, cut them off to within ½ inch of the beets. Don’t piece the beets. Reserve the greens for another use.
Put the beets in a baking dish. Add the cinnamon, allspice, thyme, the ¼ cup wine vinegar. ½ teaspoon salt, and ¾ inch boiling water. Cover tightly, transfer to the oven, and bake until a knife pierces the beets easily, about 1 hour. Set aside, covered, until cool. Peel the beets; the skin should slip off easily. Trim the ends.
Cut the beets into chunks, wedges, or slices, as you like. Toss gently with olive oil and the 1 tablespoon wine vinegar. Spoon the garlic sauce onto a serving platter, spreading it thinly. Top with the beets, then scatter the dill and scallions on top.
Reduce the garlic if you like, but diners familiar with scordalie expect it to make an impression. Some Greeks omit the potato; some omit bread. We like to use both.
Makes about 2 cups
½ pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled, halved if large
3 slices day-old dense, non-sour French or Italian bread, crusts removed
½ cup peeled cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a chef’s knife
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons warm water
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Put the potatoes in a saucepan with salted water to cover by one inch. Cover partially and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until knife-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool, then mash with a fork.
Cut the bread into chunks and place in a bowl. Cover with cold water and let soak for about 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze firmly to remove excess moisture. You should have about ½ cup.
In a food processor, puree the bread, garlic, almonds, and 1 teaspoon salt until nearly smooth. Add the vinegar and puree again. Add potatoes and 4 more warm water and puree until smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil gradually through the feed tube. The skordalia may seem runny at this point, but it will firm up as it cools.
Refrigerate for about 1 hour to firm it and mellow the flavors. Serve at room temperature, adjusting the seasoning before serving. Skordalia is best when freshly made, but you can refrigerate it for up to 2 days.