Sunday, May 15, 2011


I have a big bucketful of freshly-dug potatoes from my garden. The spuds,   brown-skinned and white-fleshed, come in all sizes, tiny ones, golf-ball sized ones, big lumpy fist-sized ones. Newly hatched, they still smell of the earth.
Potatoes from the garden.

I’ll be eating potatoes for quite a while. But, right now I need to celebrate their first appearance. I choose a simple recipe from the Canary Islands for papas arrugadas, wrinkly potatoes. The potatoes are boiled in heavily salted water until they are wrinkly and lightly coated in salt. Then they are served with mojo verde, a green chile sauce made with cilantro, fresh coriander leaves.

Fresh cilantro, a springtime herb.
Cilantro, a spring herb like mint and parsley, is little used in Spanish cooking. Except for in the Canary Islands. The archipelago of seven volcanic islands is situated in the Atlantic ocean about 600 miles southwest of continental Europe, and only 65 miles off the coast of western Africa. Although the islands are Spanish provinces, they are closer to  Morocco than to mainland Spain. And, in fact, mojo verde is very similar to the Moroccan charmoula sauce. Lots of cilantro, garlic, green chile and a smidge of cumin are blended with olive oil and vinegar to make the sauce that is tangy, hot, and fresh, all at the same time.

To round out my menu, I added fish (fillets of dorada or gilthead bream) and the first runner beans from the garden.

Wrinkly potatoes and fish with cilantro mojo sauce.


Wrinkly Potatoes
Papas Arrugadas

Serves 4.

The potatoes and mojo can be served at room temperature. They make great tapas—just spear the potatoes on picks and serve the sauce alongside for dipping. Use small (1 ½ -2 inch) potatoes. Wash the potatoes but do not peel them.

Wrinkly potatoes with mojo.
1 ½ pounds small potatoes
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 cups water

Place the potatoes in a pan with the salt and water. Bring to a boil and cook on a high heat until all the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be tender, coated with white salt and their skins slightly wrinkled. They can be reheated by adding a small quantity of water and allowing it to boil off.

If using very small new potatoes, cook them in the water just until tender when probed with a skewer. Drain off the water and return the potatoes to the heat to dry them.

Green Chile Sauce
Mojo Verde

Makes about ½ cup of sauce.

2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Sauce keeps one week, refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.

©text, recipes, photos copyright Janet Mendel

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