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 Light Meals, Sides & Soups / Dinner + Condiments & Staples
 Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Baked Feta +  Zhoug (Spicy Coriander & Garlic Sauce) 

crispy smashed potatoes with zhoug and baked feta

 

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Baked Feta & Zhoug

 

Sometimes you need crispy succulent potatoes. And sometimes you need something salty, caramalised and spicy to accompany said potatoes. Look no further, because this dish ticks all the boxes.  

New season potatoes and coriander are both abundant in my garden in spring, but you could make this in autumn too when the second flush of coriander comes on with the main crop of potatoes, just make sure you choose smaller roasting spuds - if they are large just cut them in half before cooking. 

By parboiling the potatoes then slightly squashing them with a potato masher before roasting, you will be left with more surface area to soak up the oil, which creates lots of crispy yummy bits.  

Baking the feta does something wonderful to the flavour of it – the caramelisation that occurs kind of mellows out the saltiness while giving it more depth, and it is also an opportunity to infuse spices, herbs and olive oil into the cheese.  

I like to serve this with the feta kept whole and placed in the middle as a centre piece to the potatoes, with the fennel sprinkled on top and the zhoug on the table so everyone can add sauce to their meal at their own discretion.

 

If you are taking this to a potluck, picnic or similar, you could create more of a roast potato salad by mixing it all together – just remember the zhoug is quite a strong flavour so you won’t need all of it. Once everything is cooked gently break up the feta and mix it through the potatoes with the fennel and zhoug.  

Serves 4 - 6

 

Ingredients 

  • 1.2 kilograms small gourmet or new potatoes 

  • 4 - 5 tablespoons mild oil such as rice bran oil 

  • 200 gram block feta 

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes 

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 

  • Zhoug – see recipe below 

  • Optional : 1 – 2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced 

 

Method 

  1. Wash the potatoes and place them into a large pot filled with salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are just cooked through – new potatoes don’t take long, so ensure you don’t overcook them or they will become mushy. While you are waiting for the potatoes, preheat your oven to 190.C or 180.C fanbake. 

  2. Drain the spuds into a colander and let them sit there for 5 minutes so the water can evaporate off them. 

  3. Pour the oil into an oven tray and add the potatoes along with a good sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper, mixing with your fingers to coat them well. Using a potato masher, gently push each potato down to flatten and squash them slightly and create rough pieces that will get crispy as they cook. 

  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are brown and caramelised. Remove the tray from the oven. 

  5. Using tongs, turn each potato over and move them to make a space in the centre of the tray for the feta. Place the block of feta on the oven tray and pour the olive oil over it. Sprinkle the chili flakes and cumin seeds on top and place the tray back into the oven to cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and the feta is caramelised on the bottom.  

  6. Place onto a serving platter with the potatoes around the outside and the feta in the middle, spooning some zhoug on top and placing the rest into a small bowl to serve on the side.  Top with the finely sliced fennel if you are using – it adds colour and a nice texture to the dish.

smashed potatoes with baked feta and zhoug

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Baked Feta
zhoug - spicy coriander and garlic sauce

 

Zhoug 

 

I was introduced to zhoug by my wonderful friend Sanae, who makes a very garlicky version when she has an abundance of fresh coriander and garlic in her garden. It is a sauce that stems from the Middle East and is absolutely chocka full of flavour.

  

Traditionally zhoug would have fresh green chilis in it, but to make this recipe more adaptable for springtime I have used dried red chili flakes – use the kind that still has the seeds in for added heat. 

If you have a large mortar and pestle, use it here. By pounding the herbs and spices rather than blending, the flavours become much more pronounced. However, if you don’t have a mortar and pestle I have added directions at the bottom of the recipe for blending in a food processor. 

Makes approximately 1 cup

 

Ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 

  • 6 cloves garlic, skinned 

  • ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes (for a spicier sauce use 1 teaspoon) 

  • 4 packed cups fresh coriander leaves and young thin stems, roughly chopped 

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt 

  • Juice from 1 lemon 

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 

  • Optional: pinch of ground cardamom 

 

Method 

  1. Gently toast the cumin seeds in a dry frypan until they are aromatic. Place into a large mortar and pestle with the garlic and the chili flakes and give it all a good bash, breaking up the seeds well.  

  2. Gradually add the chopped coriander, pounding well between each addition. Add the salt with the last lot of coriander and blend well until a paste is formed.  

  3. Add the lemon juice, and while working the pestle in a circular motion drizzle the olive oil in very slowly until it has all been incorporated. You should be left with a gloriously green slightly textured emulsified sauce. 

  4. Taste and adjust any seasonings if needed, keeping in mind that the flavour will change and become more amplified if you let it rest for an hour or so. 

  5. If you want a bit more warmth to your zhoug add a small pinch of ground cardamom and stir it in.

**If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can use a stick blender or food processer to make the zhoug. Blend all the ingredients together - except for the olive oil – until a paste is formed, then slowly pour the oil in last thing to allow the sauce to emulsify properly. 

Zhoug
Recipe
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