A Greek family introduced me to this dish, and taught me to pronounce it properly as “Skor-dal-YAH.” Traditionally, skordalia is part of an enticing spread of small plates called meze (MEZ-zay), served at the start of meals. Skordalia is sometimes a sauce, sometimes a dip. Most commonly, it’s potato-based — I use a yellow-fleshed baking potato such as ‘Charlotte’ — but almonds, walnuts or even bread can take the potato’s place. Garlic is a must.
I like to serve skordalia as a thick purée into which you can dip crackers, or plunge pita bread that’s been cut into small triangles, brushed with olive oil, and toasted briefly in the oven until crisp. It’s even better with whatever raw vegetables are in season. In fall, I pair skordalia with fresh-dug carrots and radishes, both crisp and sweet from the cool soil.
• 3 medium baking potatoes, about 1 pound total
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Sweet paprika, for garnish
1. Peel the potatoes, cut into large chunks, and simmer in water until tender. Drain and put through a ricer or food mill. They can also be mashed with a potato masher, but don’t use a blender or food processor, which can turn potatoes gummy. Grate or press the garlic and add to the potatoes.
2. Gradually pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil, stirring vigorously. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and a generous grind of pepper, then taste. The amount of any ingredient can be tweaked to suit your palate.
3. Serve the mixture in a bowl, or mounded on a plate. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. It’s fine at room temperature, but not chilled.
Want to learn more about cooking with potatoes and garlic? Read Growing and Cooking with Potatoes and Garlic for delicious ideas and recipes.
Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, where sturdy bowls of potato soup frequently chase the chill on cool, fall evenings. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.