THIRTY-SOMETHING YEARS into life as a vegetarian, I have consumed more potatoes than I can even imagine, and eat them several times or more a week. So how to make them different, and special? Memories of a favorite Greek restaurant I frequented decades ago sent me looking for a recipe for patates riganates, roasted potatoes with the flavors of lemon, garlic and oregano. Here’s how I make it, and some variations:
My recipe, if you could call it that, is simple. Since no two potatoes or lemons are alike, and I don’t weigh things, I eyeball it all to make sure I have enough of the marinade to go around. If I have time, I marinate the potatoes all afternoon; if not, I just combine ingredients and roast right in time for supper. But the idea goes something like this:
- About 5 or 6 medium potatoes, or about 3 pounds, cut up into equal-sized pieces (many people prefer Yukon Gold or another waxy, fine-textured potato; any will do)
- juice of 3 lemons (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 or 4 average cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup water, plus more as needed
- chopped fresh oregano, a couple of tablespoons (or a teaspoon or two dried)
- salt and pepper to taste
Cut up the potatoes (peel if you wish; I don’t) into same-sized pieces so they cook evenly. Your call what size; cooking time will vary accordingly.
Combine all the ingredients except the potatoes to make a marinade.
Marinate the potatoes in the liquid for a half-hour or several hours (if more than briefly, place in the refrigerator and turn occasionally).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Choose a baking pan big enough for potatoes to fit in a single layer. Arrange potatoes on the pan, and pour all the juices over them.
Roast for 20 or 30 minutes. If more liquid is needed, add another quarter- or half-cup of water. Turn the potatoes so they cook and brown evenly.
Continue roasting until done (test with a fork). If tender, they’re done, but…
…I can’t help myself: I always put them under the broiler toward the end, because of course what I really want is French fries (my favorite food ever, perhaps). Have a look at the other recipes in the “add-on’s” suggestions below, to see what “done” looks like elsewhere. In that Greek restaurant of my youth, they were a little brown but still soft, too. My broiler habit is why I use a heavyweight metal pan, but if I were not taking that step, I’d probably use Pyrex. Cleanup would be easier!
add-on’s and add-in’s
- Kalamata olives (before cooking, about ½ cup, pitted), as in this Food52.com member recipe, or as a garnish, chopped, on top (note: careful with the salt if you use the olives)
- Swap chicken broth for the water, as award-winning Greek cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi does in this recipe
- Chopped fresh parsley (before cooking or as garnish)
- Lemon zest from one of the lemons (before cooking, or as garnish
- How to cure and store potatoes