Every time I go on a big trip, I pick up some kind of local chili flake as a souvenir. (I also pick up the ugliest magnet I can find. My fridge looks amazing.) After I get home, I coat everything I eat with foreign chili for about two weeks, until inevitably the jar gets pushed to the back of my spice cabinet and forgotten. I was doing some spring cleaning this weekend, and uncovered no less than six kinds of weird chili flakes lurking in the corners.
Time to break out the spuds.
Potatoes are the perfect foil for random spices, and my go-to side dish when I'm cooking for a crowd. They're cheap, hard to mess up and everyone seems to love them. I've been meaning to try this recipe from Food 52 for a while, but somehow out of all my chili flakes, Aleppo pepper was not in the mix. I subbed in some Marash pepper from Turkey, but you could also just use plain old red chili flakes. The beauty of Aleppo and Marash pepper is the slow, sweet heat that builds without burning, so you can use a heavy hand. If you're using regular red pepper flakes, dial down the quantity. I do recommend investing in some za'atar - it's really versatile, and also fun to say. (The Food 52 link above also has a recipe for homemade za'atar in case you can't find it pre-made.)
These potatoes are awesome paired with grilled meat or chicken, or if you're like me and crave spice in the morning, try them with poached eggs and asparagus.
Potatoes Roasted with Za'atar and Lemon
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 30 min Total Time: 35 min
1 lb / 0.5 kg fingerling or small new potatoes halved
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Za'atar
1 Tbs Aleppo or Marash pepper flakes, or 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice from half a lemon
Preheat oven to 425F / 220C. Line pan with parchment paper.
Toss potatoes with spices, olive oil and a good dusting of salt and pepper. Spread across pan in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, give a stir, then roast an additional 10-15 minutes til tender.
Before serving, toss with lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.