I came across this unusual recipe recently while in the UK, courtesy of Rick Stein, the British celebrity chef and restaurateur. It sounded so unusually good that I had to try it and I can confirm that the flavors work brilliantly together.
Skordalia is a Greek dish and in this instance it’s made from a base of mashed potatoes with olive oil, wine vinegar and chopped almonds beaten in.
Roasted beets have an earthy sweetness that balance the salty richness of the white anchovies and the skordalia makes a perfect accompaniment. Note – *white anchovies are available from any good supermarket or deli and come in little sealed containers; don’t be tempted to substitute them by opening a can of anchovy fillets in oil instead – they just won’t do here.
RICK STEIN’S ROAST BEETS with ALMOND SKORDALIA & WHITE ANCHOVIES
(Serves 3-4 or 6-8 as an appetizer)
2.25 lbs (1kilo) of small fresh beetroot (beets), peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3.5 oz (100g) of *white anchovies
A few tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
For the Skordalia –
8-12 oz (250-340g) of potatoes, peeled and cut into equal-sized chunks
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons (30ml) of white wine vinegar
4-5 tablespoons (70ml) of olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1- 1.5 oz (20-40g) of blanched almonds, chopped
A couple of tablespoons of the potato boiling water, reserved (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F /200C.
Toss the peeled and quartered beets in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange them in a shallow pan and roast for 40-45 minutes or until they’re tender.
Meanwhile, make the Skordalia. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender then drain them, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the water to loosen the Skordalia (if necessary).
Put the potatoes in a large bowl and mash them with the crushed garlic, then alternately add the vinegar and remaining olive oil a spoonful at a time. Beat well after each addition then beat in a good grind of black pepper. Taste to see if you need to add any more salt. Finally stir in the chopped almonds and if the potatoes are too stiff, fold in the reserved water to soften it.
Divide the mashed potato between 3-4 plates, top with roast beets, a few anchovies and a sprinkle of parsley. Serve warm or at room temp.