Potatoes are like flavor sponges. Being a fairly blank palette, what you put into them makes a big difference.
Here’s my much-simplified version of a Hasselback potato. Instead of Swedish, though, I’m taking them on a trip through Spain. These are amped up with fresh bay leaves, baked lemons and Spanish black olives (although most olives will do, depending on your preference and availability).
This is easy and quick enough for a weekday, but it also makes for a unique, entertainment-worthy side dish. The bay leaves impart a floral aroma, and the tart baked lemons and briny olives pack a wallop of flavor in a seemingly humble dish. It’s the quiet ones that make an impact.
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Spanish Style Smashed Potatoes
- 7-8 new (baby) potatoes, red or white, ideally the same size for even baking
- 1 fresh bay leaf for each potato
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup black olives, pitted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat, plus generous extra to drizzle on baked, smashed potatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not table salt)
- Wash and dry potatoes
- Thinly slice half of the lemon to get four slices, reserve the other half of the lemon
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over potatoes, lemon slices and pitted olives and toss to coat. Sprinkle salt over potatoes and lemons
- Slice each potato, lengthwise approximately 3/4 of the way through
- Insert a bay leaf into each potato and drizzle a little olive oil into each potato (Tip: Use your knife to help guide in the bay leaf)
- Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper with the bay leaf facing up
- Place each lemon slice flat on the baking sheet
- Bake at 375F (190C) for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the lemon slices over. Add the olives to the baking sheet. Continue baking for another 15 minutes and then remove the lemon slices (some blackened edges on the lemons are fine). Continue to bake potatoes and olives for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Altogether, the potatoes will bake for approximately 35 minutes total, depending on their size
- Remove from oven, and remove and discard bay leaves from potatoes
- Finely chop the baked lemon slices and coarsely chop the olives
- With the back of a large spoon, gently smash each potato until they break and begin to flatten. Place in a bowl and toss in the chopped lemon slices and olives. Drizzle with fresh olive oil and squeeze the juice from the remaining half of the lemon over the potatoes. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed