LEFT BRAIN: North African Potato Salad
This lemony potato salad is slightly spicy, yet not so hot that the other flavours are overpowered by chili heat. It is very characteristic of North African cuisine featuring olive oil, lemon juice and the spice mixture of cumin, caraway and cayenne known as “harissa”. It is best served at room temperature.
I have made this with floury baking potatoes as well as waxy ‘new’ potatoes, however it is best with the latter.
Makes 7-8 cups, from 6 to 8 servings
8 to 10 medium waxy potatoes, about 2 1/4 lbs (1 kg)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp (45 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
Chopped parsley or coriander
- Peel and cut potatoes into 3/4-inch (1.5-cm) chunks. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; generously cover with cold water. Partially cover; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so water gently boils; cook 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain.
- Meanwhile, partially crush cumin and caraway seeds using a mortar and pestle or whirl in a spice grinder (in our household this is a small electric grinder originally used for coffee beans and now repurposed). In a small bowl, stir seeds with cayenne, salt and lemon juice.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Stir lemon juice mixture and carefully pour into hot oil; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until steaming stops and seeds look darker.
- Add potatoes; using a large spatula, turn potatoes, lifting from from pan bottom rather than stirring which can break up the potatoes. Cool to room temperature; garnish with parsley and a wedge or two of lemon. This salad is particularly good with grilled lamb, fish or chicken.
Make Ahead: Store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature.
What would the world be without cumin – a duller place indeed! Marilyn’s recipe with cumin and caraway adds a totally different thrill to the taste buds
RIGHT BRAIN: Potato & Garlic Salad
This recipe is not only deliciously simple to prepare – one potato and one garlic clove per person – and the results are stellar. Be sure to serve in a colourful bowl as I have in the photograph where I made the salad with tricoloured tiny new potatoes.
Serves: as many as you need
Ingredients for each person:
1 large or 2 medium equally-sized new potatoes (or about 6 tiny new potatoes)
1 garlic clove per large potato (if the cloves of garlic are large take that into account for your one to one ratio)
mayonnaise (preferably the olive oil variety or your own homemade)
- Scrub potatoes, leaving skin on.
- Place potatoes in a suitably sized pot and fill to cover adding salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat leaving the pot partially covered.
- Fine dice or chug all the garlic in the food processor. Place the garlic into the bottom of the serving bowl.
- When the potatoes are cooked drain in a colander but do not rinse with cold water.
- If you are using lovely little new potatoes just cut them in half and lay on top of the garlic. Peel as soon as you can handle larger potatoes using a table knife and fork, rough cutting them into the bowl as you go.
- Place a healthy dollop of mayonnaise on top of the potatoes and fold everything together gently. Add salt and more mayonnaise as needed.
That’s it! When your guests ask what makes the salad so spicy you can say truthfully, “the garlic”. They won’t believe you until you send them to our website to make it themselves.
Surprisingly, the garlic is not overpowering, but instead delicious! That said, I suggest that if you have an important business meeting the next day, that you indulge afterwards.