I make a small plate of these little gems pretty regularly, sometimes for dinner, sometimes for a snack. Who’s counting? I used to cook in huge quantities before but now I prefer small plates rather than big servings of this or that. It’s more interesting and more than enough food. We eat way too much in my opinion. The Spanish elevated the small plate to an art form and I am looking forward to our stay in Spain, trying their famous tapas bars. . In preparation for the trip I have been reading Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain, one of the most authoritative works on this cuisine. If the book wasn’t so huge and heavy (more than 600 pages) I would have loved to take it along on the trip. However, it would require its own suitcase, so it’s being left behind and instead I am taking an electronic version on my Kindle.
One of the pleasures of life, says Roden, is meeting friends in tapas bars before lunch or dinner for a glass of wine or sherry and a sampling of small plates of foods. The larger centres in Spain, places like Barcelona, Seville and Madrid, have “tapas zones”, streets that are lined up with tapas bars called tabernas or tascas. It’s common to go on a “tapas crawl” they call tapeo and taste plates from several different tabernas. How fun is that? They must be quite social over there. Tapas however are not served at home. What they serve before dinner at home is aperitivos, or foods that do not require cooking and are intended to stimulate your appetite. These would include olives, cured meats, pickled vegetables etc.
This smashed potatoes plate is not a Spanish tradition (the hot red sauce is) but I think it should be. Why not? Tapas can be as simple as bowls of olives, fried nuts or cheese, and evolve in complexity to egg dishes, various meats, seafood, little stews, savoury pastries and more. On the Costa Blanca along the Mediterranean coast, where we will stay for a while, the focus is on vegetables, which suits me fine, can’t wait to taste. Potatoes however are the most popular foods around the Spanish Canary Islands, consisting of seven islands in the Atlantic ocean off the African coast of West Sahara. Apparently they grow all kinds of potatoes there and one particular dish, called wrinkled potatoes, is made of small potatoes cooked and very salty water until the water dries and the potatoes are left with crinkly skin covered with white powdery salty coating. These are finger foods. You pick these up with your fingers and dip them in green or red sauces. So I made my smashed potatoes and will serve them with the red sauce from Claudia Roden’s book for dipping them in or with a drizzle of the sauce over them. That sauce was delicious by the way, I can see many uses for it other than this dish.
Are you in? here is the recipe:
12 baby potatoes (or as many as you need)
1/3 cup Olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Dipping Sauce: either the Spanish hot sauce or sour cream mixed with a little whipping cream.
Spanish Red Hot Sauce:
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or less)
2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
6 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Combine the olive oil with the rosemary and let infuse while you are preparing the rest of the dish.
Steam the potatoes in a steamer basket until just cooked. remove and let cool.
Toss the potatoes with a little olive oil until they just glisten.
Press each potato with a potato masher to flatten it out. This will break their skin and will result in irregular shape, but you want the potatoes to stay in one piece.
Sprinkle each potato with salt and drizzle a little of the rosemary oil over each potato.
Roast in preheated 400℉ oven for about 20-30 minutes until potatoes are crisp and golden.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated parmesan.
Serve with the Spanish red hot sauce or with sour cream mixed with whipping cream
For the sauce: combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend.