Skordalia

Bread and potato create a lusciously creamy Greek skordalia , while lemon juice tames the raw garlic flavor.

Skordalia
MAKES about 2 cups VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Skordalia is a thick and hearty Greek garlic puree that is usually served as a dip or as an accompaniment for fish or vegetables. For our version, we set our sights on a spreadable dip that could work as a versatile appetizer. Since skordalia is made with raw garlic, we needed only three cloves to give the dip potent garlic flavor. Traditional recipes rely on bread, potatoes, nuts, or a combination thereof to create a velvety, thick-textured base. We tested a variety of combinations and found that bread and potato together had the most pleasing texture: luxuriously thick and creamy without being dense or greasy. A single russet potato was all we needed—any more and our dip started to taste like mashed potatoes—and we discovered that boiling produced a better texture than microwaving or baking. Putting the potato through a ricer ensured that it was fluffy and smooth. To keep our recipe streamlined, we tried combining our ingredients in a blender and a food processor, but the high-speed motion of the blades caused the starches in the potato to become gluey and pasty. Mixing the ingredients by hand produced a much better texture. A generous dose of lemon juice brightened the dip nicely (and letting the garlic marinate in the juice tamed its harsh bite), and a little yogurt added creamy richness. A rasp-style grater can be used to turn the garlic into a paste. We prefer the rich flavor of whole-milk yogurt here; however, low-fat yogurt will also work. Do not use nonfat yogurt. Serve with Olive Oil–Sea Salt Pita Chips , slices of toasted baguette, or raw vegetables.

1 (10- to 12-ounce) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced to paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons warm water, plus extra as needed
Salt and pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

1. Place potato in small saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring water to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until potato is tender and paring knife can be inserted into potato with no resistance, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain potato in colander, tossing to remove any excess water.
2. Meanwhile, combine garlic and lemon juice in bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. In separate medium bowl, mash bread, ¼ cup warm water, and ½ teaspoon salt into paste with fork.
3. Transfer potato to ricer (food mill fitted with small disk) and process into bowl with bread mixture. Stir in lemon-garlic mixture, oil, yogurt, and remaining 2 tablespoons warm water until well combined. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and adjust consistency with extra warm water as needed before serving.

Mincing Garlic to a Paste

Mince garlic, then sprinkle with pinch salt. Scrape side of chef’s knife blade across garlic, mashing it into cutting board to make sticky garlic paste.

Lavash Crackers
SERVES 10 to 12 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Popular in the eastern Mediterranean, traditional lavash is a little bit nutty and a little bit sweet and has a crisp and airy texture perfect for serving with dips. To get just the right flavor and texture, we used a combination of three flours: fine semolina flour, nutty whole-wheat flour, and all-purpose flour. To make the dough, we mixed the flours (and a little salt) in a stand mixer, then gradually added water and oil until the dough was smooth and elastic. Letting the dough rest for an hour made it much easier to roll out. Once the dough had rested, we rolled it out onto oiled baking sheets, pricked it all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles, brushed it with a beaten egg, and sprinkled it with sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Finally, we baked the crackers until deeply golden brown and let them cool before breaking the large sheets into crispy, crunchy crackers. We prefer the larger crystal size of sea salt or kosher salt here; if using table salt, reduce the amount of salt by half.

1½ cups (8⅝ ounces) semolina flour
¾ cup (4⅛ ounces) whole-wheat flour
¾ cup (3¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1. Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix semolina flour, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt together on low speed. Gradually add water and oil and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 7 to 9 minutes. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces, brush with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat two 18 by 13-inch rimless (or inverted) baking sheets with vegetable oil spray.
3. Working with 2 pieces of dough (keep remaining dough covered with plastic), press dough into small rectangles, then transfer to prepared sheets. Using rolling pin and hands, roll and stretch dough evenly to edges of sheet. Using fork, poke holes in doughs at 2-inch intervals. Brush doughs with beaten egg, then sprinkle each with 1½ teaspoons sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Press gently on seasonings to help them adhere.
4. Bake crackers until deeply golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Transfer crackers to wire rack and let cool completely. Let baking sheets cool completely before rolling out and baking remaining dough. Break cooled lavash into large crackers and serve. (Lavash can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.)

Making Lavash Crackers

1.ROLL DOUGH Using rolling pin and hands, roll and stretch 1 piece of dough evenly to edges of sheet.

2.PRICK DOUGH Using fork, poke holes in dough at 2-inch intervals to prevent air bubbles.

3. SEASON DOUGH Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, pressing gently to help seasonings adhere.

4. BREAK CRACKERS Once lavash is baked and cooled, break crackers into large pieces using hands.

Marinated Green and Black Olives
SERVES 8 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Homemade marinated olives are simple to make and taste far better than store-bought. Our first task was to choose what type of olives to use. We opted for olives with pits, which have better flavor than pitted ones, and found that tasters preferred brine-cured olives to salt-cured for their subtler flavors. A combination of black and green olives boosted visual appeal. As for the marinade, we found that ¾ cup of good olive oil was just enough to cover the olives without drowning them. Shallot and garlic offered balanced aromatic flavor, and some lemon zest provided a subtle citrus note. Fresh thyme and oregano gave the marinade a fresh, herbal flavor, and a dash of red pepper flakes brought everything into focus. Since our marinated olives were so simple, we also developed a couple of flavorful variations that combined the olives with milky fresh mozzarella and salty feta. Make sure to bring the mixture to room temperature before serving or the oil will look cloudy and congealed. Serve with toothpicks and a thinly sliced baguette or crackers.

1 cup brine-cured green olives with pits
1 cup brine-cured black olives with pits
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
Rinse olives thoroughly, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Toss olives with remaining ingredients in bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

VARIATIONS
Marinated Olives with Baby Mozzarella VEG
Reduce amount of black and green olives to ½ cup each. Substitute 1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil for oregano. Add 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini ), cut into ½-inch pieces (2 cups), to olive mixture.
Marinated Green Olives with Feta VEG
Omit black olives and fresh thyme. Substitute orange zest for lemon zest. Add 8 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups), to olive mixture.

 

Appetizer & Meze

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