I’ve rarely met a potato I didn’t like! This time around, the potato is the center of the dish and not just a lonely little side.
Have you had enough dinners lately with pasta the center of the plate?
I love it when potatoes can be the star of a meal. A stuffed baked potato is a perfect meal in my book, and just about any dish featuring spuds will be on my list. Of course, I can’t eat them as often as I would like because of their high starchy carb content, so I use them mingled with other vegetables, and as the occasional feature, as in this dish.
I used a combination of fingerling and small blue potatoess here, but any firm potato would work. I left the peelings on because they were blemish and eye free, but you can peel them if you like, or if the potatoes need to be cleaned up a bit. The potatoes are boiled first, and then roasted in the oven which makes them soft on the inside and deliciously crisp on the outside.
Freezer or pantry
The pasta sauce I used was my own from the freezer, but you can use a favorite jarred sauce as well. I haven’t been to the market where I get my kalamata olives recently, but these jarred ones worked just fine.
The peppers will provide sweet little pops of flavor, while the olives offer a salty bite. The jalapeño gives a little warmth, but you like more heat you can add another pepper or increase the amount.
Use what you have
If you do not have the fresh basil, use a tsp. of dried. If you do not have the fennel seeds, substitute anise seeds, our leave them out.
A bonus, this recipe uses primarily pantry and staple ingredients, and the pepper is optional if you can’t find one. You can also substitute canned or frozen artichoke hearts.
Smashed Potatoes with Tomato Sauce and Olives
- 1 1/2 lb. fingerling or red potatoes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 sweet pepper, seeded and halved
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and halved
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, sliced
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Start the potatoes: Chose potatoes that are approximately the same size, or cut the larger ones in half. Place in a pot and cover with cold water, add a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
Add olive oil to a rimmed baking sheet and turn out the potatoes. Using a potato masher or bottom of a glass, gently press the potatoes to about half thickness. They will crack, but you don’t want them to break apart too much. Add the peppers to the pan, brush with a little more olive oil, and add salt and pepper.
The peppers will be ready in about 30 minutes, so remove them when they are soft and starting to char. Chop them up, and set aside. You can rub off the charred skins if they are really tough, but I usually don’t bother.
While the potatoes are baking, heat the pasta sauce along with the crushed fennel seeds and basil (save a couple of leaves to garnish if you like). Add the olives and peppers.
Bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, or until very crispy. Place in a serving dish and top with the sauce, and sprinkle with a few more olives and shavings of Parmesan or non-dairy alternative. Alternately, you can serve up the potatoes and let everyone top with the sauce themselves.
Note: For those in the family who think there’s not enough protein in vegetables to make a meal, you can top it with a free-range, organic egg!
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