Not too long ago I was flipping through a cookbook full of Mediterranean recipes when I came across a recipe for a garlicky dip called skordalia. It’s a Greek condiment that goes well with roasted vegetables as well as fish. I’d never heard of it before but the cook book author chose to photograph the skordalia with roasted beets which caught my attention.
Knowing I could find the recipe on the internet, I made note of the name, but neglected to make note of the actual cook book so I could make reference. In fact, the same book contained the panisses I made. Not to worry, there are many recipes available on the internet. Some use bread as the base instead of potatoes. Others add almonds or walnuts. All have lots of garlic and lots of olive oil
Skordalia is easy to make. You don’t need a mixer and in fact, you might over beat the potatoes if you use one. It’s really, really garlicky, but I liked it spread on bread. I wasn’t sure about the combination with the beets at first, but it grows on you. If you’re not a fan of beets, try the skordalia with other roasted vegetables like those used in escalivada. You may find, as I did, that the combination is really delicious.
If you don’t feel like roasting them, look for vacuum packed beets in the produce section. Otherwise, wash the dirt from the beets and trim the tops and roots. Then place them in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom and roast, covered, in a 400° oven for about an hour or until you can piece the beet with a fork. At that point, remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin and slice into wedges or disks as desired.
A mortar and pestle make it easier to make the garlic puree, but if you don’t have one, mash the peeled cloves with the back of your knife and some salt. Use a pulling motion to smash the garlic onto your cutting board and grind it up with the salt.
I relied on the recipe from the Splendid Table’s website where they warn not to use a garlic press or to let the puree sit lest it become bitter. We have a mortar and pestle and our puree worked out great.
- 2 fist sized beets, roasted and sliced as described above (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
- 4 or 5 fist sized potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
- A small head of garlic. Cook the very small cloves with the potatoes and reserve 5 cloves for making the puree. Any garlic cloves you use should be peeled and trimmed.
- 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
- pepper to taste
- lemon zest and juice to taste
- between 1/2 and 3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil
- Roast the beets as directed
- Place the potatoes and three cloves of garlic (or equivalent in itty bitty cloves) in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are very soft, as you would for mashed potatoes.
- Drain the potatoes– reserving a cup of the cooking liquid– and mash them, garlic and all.
- Add the cooking liquid, a little at a time until you have a very loose puree.
- Mash five garlic cloves into a paste and add to the potatoes. Mix well.
- Add the garlic paste to the potatoes and drizzle in the olive oil while stirring. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest and juice.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with some bread, the sliced beets and more olive oil for drizzling.
- Store the leftovers in the fridge, and eat within the next couple days.
I’ve never had skordalia so I don’t know how authentic the recipe is, but regardless it’s very delicious. After trying it, I’m sure it would also be great for stuffing small peppers or as a quesadilla filling. Do try it with other roasted vegetables if you’re not a beet fan. It’s really terrific spread on thinly sliced bread and would be awesome with a lavash style bread.
Have you had skordalia before? How was it served?