Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Olives

I don’t make any bones about it: I love potatoes.  Always have.  Always will.  I have stood by them in the low-carb-no-carb-paleo onslaught.  They’re full of Vitamin C and a bunch of B vitamins, potassium, and dietary fiber (especially if you eat the skin).  Plus, their versatile deliciousness never fails to woo my tastebuds.

If loving the potato is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Anyway.

We had stopped at Ard’s, a little (yet ever-expanding) market stand/BBQ stand/farm stand/Christmas tree stand (seasonally, of course) and home of the autumn corn maze to see what fresh goods we could get our meathooks on, since some friends were coming for dinner.  Much to our delight, Ard’s had pints of adorable, multi-colored baby potatoes just begging us to buy them.  What could we do?  Two pints came home with us, to be trimmed and roasted and tossed with tasty things and served to people whose opinions we greatly value.  This dish looks great, tastes great, and is suuuuuuuuuuuuuper-super simple, to boot.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pints baby potatoes, any color-ilk-type. It would theoretically “work” with large potatoes chopped up, but you wouldn’t get that satisfying potato skin snap in every bite so why deprive yourself of that if you can avoid it?
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary; determine how much you would like to use by how pungent your rosemary is and how much you like it.  I love it.  I went for both full teaspoons.
  • Olive oil to coat the potatoes.
  • Salt & pepper, to taste, but remember you’ll be coating the potatoes in olives at the end, so maybe go easy on the salt when you roast, yes?
  • 1/4 cup (but a generous one) pitted black olives; I used Kalamata, ground in a food processor or blender.

That’s it.  Prepare to be amazed.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Then wash and trim your potatoes.  If any of them are large-ish, cut them in half.  Put them in a mixing bowl or, if you prefer and have a pan with a high enough side for mixing, the roasting pan you’re going to cook them in.  Toss with rosemary, salt, pepper, and oil.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

It already looks so good to me that I want to lick the screen.

Put them in the oven so the alchemical synergy that comes from potatoes + rosemary can work its mysterious business.  I have no idea what it is that makes the rosemary/potato relationship so special; I just know that the first time I ate a roasted rosemary potato, it was like a herd of unicorn burst into my kitchen, aimed their horns and blasted rainbows on my plate.

So full of win.

They’ll probably be in the oven for about 45 minutes or so but check them after 20 minutes, and then after another 20, and stir them around so they’ll cook evenly and won’t burn.  And so on, until they are fluffy and soft and yield to the fork you’ll use to test them for soft fluffiness.  I confess, I generally get annoyed because I mistakenly think that potatoes shouldn’t take as long to cook as they do.  Thus I have a terrible tendency to undercook them, which is not unicorn-rainbow-blast good but rather, awkward and sad like a naked turtle running a footrace.

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.  Image from message.snopes.com

This? Is the visual equivalent of undercooked potatoes.
Image from message.snopes.com

While the potatoes are roasting, measure out your olives and get them ready.  When I said a “generous” quarter-cup, I meant it. I probably should have crammed one or two more in there, now that I look… 🙂

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Because really, who needs exact amounts of olives, among friends?

Grind these up in a food processor or blender, unless you’re a nonna or are Amish or are a self-nominee for kitchen martyr of the year or eschew electrical devices for some reason and feel a need to go at these with a knife or mortar and pestle or something.  (Because you’re not really cooking unless you make things slick with olive oil?)  Once they’re ground, set them aside until the potatoes are done.

Done!

Done!

Then?

Here’s the kicker.

Mix the olives in with the potatoes, et voila!  Le dish, she is finis.

I will make this again and again.

I will make this again and again.

They’re savory, salty, pungent, crisp, fluffy, and all-around amazing.  They’re a great side dish for just about everything, from chicken to crêpes, and they’re one of the (surprisingly few) dishes that has worked its way into my go-to, “haven’t had these in a while and I’m craving them must eat must have must eat must have” repertoire.

Let me put it this way: If Mario Batali were coming over for dinner, these are the potatoes I would make.  After I finished passing out and picked myself back up off the floor.

Enjoy!

Nosh: Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette

Ahhh, summer!  Salads!  Light eats!  No-cook meals!  The body-image-terror-inducing moments of having to put on a bathing suit in public!

Though salads can, admittedly, get boring.  It’s true, I’m afraid.  And it’s not like I’m secretly expressing a salad bias; I love a good salad.

But yes.  They can get boring.

Which is why it’s so very important to have a veritable arsenal of dressings at your disposal.  Mix it up, keep it sassy.

Since there are only two of us, I generally make dressings in small batches, both because I don’t want to get bored with what I’m eating and also for practicality’s sake.  I don’t want it to go bad before I can finish eating it.  You can make however much you want, but remember: if you make it fresh and aren’t a food chemist with a stock of chemicals lying about, then it won’t last in the fridge for months.  If you can’t finish it within a week, note it so you can make less next time.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 small shallot, rougly chopped
  • Zest and juice from one Meyer lemon, or a regular lemon if Meyer lemons aren’t available.  A small orange would also be a delicious substitute.
  • 5-6 (or so, it depends on the size of the olives in question, and your own personal taste) pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 scant tablespoon (a good healthy dollop, really) grainy mustard
  • black pepper to taste
  • Quantity to be determined: Extra-virgin olive oil (be zen, dears, all will be explained in time)
  • a squeeze of honey (optional)

I was going to say that I wouldn’t try your patience by showing the ingredients before blending them but the fact is?  I forgot to take pictures at the beginning of this process.  So just bear with me, ‘kay?  ‘Kay.

Toss everything except the pepper, olive oil, and honey into a blender.  (Citrus tip: remember to zest first before juicing.  You’ll only need to make the mistake of juicing first once before never doing so again, but if you can avoid it at all…)  Blend.  If you’re having a hard time getting the ingredients to move around, you can add in some olive oil so your blender has something to work with, but you really don’t need to figure out how much you’re going to use.  The amount of olive oil will be determined partly by how much oil you like in your dressing (I don’t like it to be more than half of the total weight of the dressing).  Part of it will be determined by how much oil your olives exude, which probably won’t be much but hey, why go overboard?

Speaking of going overboard, I haven’t stated that you should add salt.  Olives are already plenty salty, so bear that in mind when seasoning your dressing.

When you’ve got everything blended so that it’s nice and smooth, let it settle for a minute so the oil will start to separate from the rest of the dressing.  Just so you can see what proportion of oil you’re working with.  Once you see that, add as much oil as you deem appropriate and crack in some pepper.  Give it all a whirl in the blender and then taste it.  Does it need more pepper?  Salt?  Is it too tart?  Here’s where you squirt in the honey, if you so desire.  Toss it all into a jar which you can cap and shake vigorously for future uses.

A week's worth of dressing!  Yes, we eat a lot of salad.

A week’s worth of dressing! Yes, we eat a lot of salad.

This is one of those 8-oz jars, so it’s not a super-giant amount.  That being said…DAMN, I eat some veggies!

For the record, it goes REALLY well with some falafel and hummus and feta and salad on a pita.

Lunch it like a boss.

Lunch it like a boss.

When you make your own salad dressings, you can provide yourself with whatever flavors you want, in whatever combination.  You don’t have lemons?  Use oranges.  You don’t like thyme?  Use oregano.  However you put it together, you know the dressing isn’t jam-packed with salt and preservatives.  You’re not beholden to an entire bottle you don’t want to “waste”.  And it takes maybe…mayyyyyyyybe…ten minutes, if you’re a slow zester.

Enjoy!

Nosh: Spiced Olives

Hey, folks.

I’m about to give you the easiest recipe, and the most workable recipe, for an appetizer, or if you’re putting out a tapas spread, or if you just happen to have some olives laying around and don’t know what to do with them.  It is easiest and most beloved recipe in all the lands, both known and unknown.  You’re welcome.

It’s so easy you don’t even need pictorial assistance.  What you do need is:

One container of olives.  I like to buy the nice kalamata olives you get at the deli counter, but you can use jarred, or canned.  They just shouldn’t be stuffed with anything.

Chopped garlic.  Or not.  Whichever and how much you would prefer.

A strip or two of citrus peel.  If you have just oranges, use oranges.  If you have just lemons, use those.  If you have both in the house, take a strip of each, if you’d like.  And then  juice whatever you’ve used and save the juice for future use.

A sprig of fresh rosemary.  Dried also works.  Or thyme, or oregano, if you’d prefer.

A shake of crushed red pepper, if you’d like.

Some black pepper.  Not optional.  🙂  Since we’re talking about olives, no, you don’t need salt.

Put the olives in a saute pan with some oil.  Heat.  Toss in everything else.  Saute at medium heat for about five minutes, maybe.  Until the citrus peel and the rosemary meld into one fragrant unit with the garlic, and the olives look like they’ve picked up a little bit of color.

Put the whole thing in a serving bowl.

Eat.

These are always a win with my friends.

Five minutes.  Eight, if take extra-special care to chop the garlic.

And it contributes prettily to a nice spread you can put out to welcome hungry weekend guests after they’ve made a long drive to hang out with you.

Sorry about the weird Batman-like angle; I admittedly rushed the shot.

It’s only civil.

Here’s the olives, with a sharp cheddar and some mild goat cheese, apples (that I prevented from browning by tossing them in the lemon juice squeezed from the lemon I peeled for the citrus strip), crackers, crisped baguette slices, and a delicious grainy mustard.  And oven-roasted tomatoes; you can find that recipe here.

Enjoy!

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