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Greek spuds suit spring celebrations

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    Greek-style roasted lemon potatoes.

With two big feast days looming — Easter and Passover — I thought I’d offer up a simple but delicious side dish. I’m talking about the lemony roasted potatoes that are among dependable delights on the menu at a Greek restaurant. They’re crisp on the outside but tangy and creamy on the inside … and surprisingly easy to make.

The key is to start by only partially cooking the potatoes — five minutes, then pull them off the heat. While they’re still hot, toss them with lemon juice and salt. The potatoes will soak up the flavorings like a sponge.

The next step is the one that creates the crisp crust: Coat them with oil and roast them.

The final touch? Toss with fresh chopped herbs right before you serve them. I prefer parsley and oregano, but they’d be great with rosemary or basil, too.

The best spuds for this dish are those that hold their shape when boiled and roasted. Yukon Golds are my particular favorite. Russet potatoes — aka baking potatoes, the most famous being the Idaho — would fall apart.

If you manage not to eat them all in one sitting, you’ll love these guys all over again as leftovers. That’s because they happen to make terrific hash browns. Just saute some chopped onion in oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until it’s caramelized, add the potatoes, then smash them with a potato masher or fork until they form a big pancake. Brown it slowly on both sides and you’re done.

That lemony edge makes these hash browns a particularly toothsome variation on the standard version.

Greek-Style Roasted Lemon Potatoes

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes (not russets), peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling pan
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • >> Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

In medium saucepan, combine potatoes and salt with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer potatoes 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt until salt is dissolved, then whisk in oil.

Drain potatoes well. While they are still hot, add to bowl with dressing and toss. Let sit 15 minutes, stirring several times to make sure the liquid is well distributed. Add 1/4 cup oil and combine well, being careful not to break up potatoes.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment or foil and brush with oil. Spread potatoes on pan in single layer. Roast on middle shelf of oven, turning several times, until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Toss with parsley, oregano and pepper. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 203 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 81 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 3 g protein

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