Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Potatoes Stewed with Kalamata Olives

Last year I discovered this recipe when I was searching for a way to use up leftover red potatoes and I didn't want to curry them up Indian style. I wanted to branch out and in searching The Greek Vegetarian I found this delightfully rich and so satisfying. The potatoes give it comfort and richness, while the tomatoes give the dish acidity in a good way.

As you know, I just adore potatoes in all forms. I also love tomatoes and this recipe calls for both plus olives which is an added bonus for me. This recipe is awesome because it calls for only 6 ingredients most of which you probably already have in your kitchen. It does take longer than 30 minutes but it's a very low maintenance dish that does not require a lot of attentiveness. You can let it sit on the stove and do it's thing.

Makes 4 servings
Cooking time: 50 minutes

-2 1/2 pounds medium sized potatoes
-1/3 c olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 1/2 cups rinsed and pitted kalamata olives (not chopped)
-1 1/3 cups of plum tomatoes with their juices
-1 tsp dried oregano
-Salt and pepper to taste

My modifications
-Slightly less than 2 lbs of potatoes and I use red potatoes
-1/4 c olive oil
-1.5 cans (or about 22 ounces) of diced tomatoes (salted)
-1 c kalamata olives
-I don't add salt because I find the salt from the tomatoes and olives is enough

When I made this the first time, I followed the recipe exactly and found that the ratio of potatoes to tomatoes was wrong. Too many potatoes and not enough tomatoes and juices in which to cook the potatoes. I had to add water to prevent burning and I really don't like doing that because the food loses its flavor that way. 1/3 c olive oil does seem like a lot, no? I reduced it to 1/4 c. You do need this much though because the dish gets some of its flavor from the oil.

1. Wash and peel potatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise and cut each half into 3 or 4 slices, each about 1/2 inch thick (I cut them smaller). I don't bother with the peeling because I think it's such a waste of time and as my mom says, "All those nutrients are in the skin and why would you want to lose those?!"

2. In a stewing pot or Dutch oven (I used a my favorite non-stick skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and stir to coat. Toss in garlic and stir. Add the olives and toss everything for 2 to 3 minutes. The olives will break apart a little and dish will change color and darken. Add the tomatoes and stir. Lower the heat, cover pot, and simmer the potatoes for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender and the sauce is thick. (I found that this took 40 minutes). Add a little water during cooking if it seems as though the potatoes are going to burn (don't do this....Add more tomatoes in the beginning). Just before removing from heat, add the oregano and season to taste.

After 40 minutes, I added the oregano. I turned the heat off and left covered so that the dish could continue to cook in it's own heat.

3. Serve with good bread and feta on the side. I like to eat this dish with quinoa, a wonderful tasty grain that you can cook on the stove while preparing this dish or in a rice cooker.

This dish is so darn tasty. I made it last night for dinner -- it's Greek comfort food.

Happy eating!

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