My happy place is sitting by the sea at a plastic table with a red and white checkered tablecloth. The wind is salted and warm, and I’m on an island in Greece. In front of me there’s a big Greek salad drizzled with olive oil with a big hunk of feta cheese on top and a side of fresh cut french fries and tzatziki.
This very specific happy place comes from the summers I’ve spent in Greece and the food I’ve eaten while I’ve been there. Even my rudimentary Greek language skills revolve around food. My first words were words like λεμόνι (lemon), λάδι (oil), πατάτα (potato), τυρί (cheese), and ψωμί (bread) because when my yiayia or my dad would serve dinner they would use the Greek words instead of the English.
So in honor of this love for Greek food and the celebration of Greek Independence Day two weeks ago (March 25th), I’m making a famous Greek dish called skordalia. It’s a pretty simple recipe with only five ingredients, so I wanted to share it with you all so you could give it a try. Some describe it as more of a dip to be eaten like hummus or baba ganoush, but others describe it as a side dish similar to super garlicky mashed potatoes (which is how I always grew up eating it). But, you can decide for yourself!
On Greek Independence Day it’s typically served as a side with fried cod, but you can also enjoy it with vegetables or bread. So without further ado, here is my yiayia’s recipe for her skordalia:
1 lb white potatoes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1. Peel and boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until soft.
2. When finished, drain the potatoes and then mash with a fork or a potato ricer in a large bowl.
3. Mix in the olive oil one tablespoon at a time.
4. Add in finely minced or ground with a mortar and pestle (preferred) garlic and the lemon juice/vinegar
5. Add salt depending on your preference.
P.S. When I first tried this recipe I tried to avoid some of the harder parts of the recipe (mashing the potatoes without a potato masher, and crushing the garlic with a pestle — neither of which I own) by throwing everything in my blender. This laziness on my part not only made everything have a gooey, sticky texture, but also made an odd smell come out of my blender because it wasn’t made to blend mashed potatoes. So if you want to throw the garlic in the food processor instead of a mortar and pestle you can, but be wary of trying to take the easy way out (me and my blender sure did).
P.P.S. If you’re interested, you can read more about learning Greek or just download the Rosetta Stone app and start learning it.