When I was little, my parents used to take my brother and me to their favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, and I would cry and cry and cry. Really, the only parts of the restaurant that I liked were the ceiling lamps that looked like Smarties chocolates and the 7-layer chocolate cake. Somehow, I always worked my parents over and they allowed me to eat cake for dinner if I ate half an order of hummus. It was a pretty okay deal, in retrospect.
Since then, a lot has changed. I still find hummus to be of a weird texture, and unless it’s super creamy and rich, I can’t jump on the hummus-is-the-best-ever superfood bandwagon that seems to be popular right now. But, I have grown to like more Middle Eastern foods beyond chocolate cake.
One dish at our local Middle Eastern literally makes me salivate just at the thought: potato cilantro. It’s incredibly simple in its ingredients: just potatoes and cilantro, as the name suggest, with lemon juice, garlic, oil and salt. But the flavors are complex and varied, creating this juicy-yet-creamy combination that is just divine. This dish makes for a perfect side dish to falafel or kebabs, or if you’re like me and you make a huge portion, a meal!
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
4 large Russet potatoes, washed, dried and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (peeling is optional)
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped, and stems discarded
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Toss potatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt until potatoes are completely and evenly coated. Arrange cubed potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake for 8 minutes. Flip, and bake for 6 more minutes, or until the tops are brown and crispy, and the potatoes can be pierced with a fork with no resistance.
- In the meantime, heat remaining oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add garlic and saute until slightly fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add chopped cilantro to the saute pan, and saute until wilted.
- Reduce heat medium-low and add lemon juice and remaining salt (or more, to taste) and simmer, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens slightly.
- Remove potatoes from the oven, and add to saute pan. Stir lemon “sauce” and potatoes until potatoes are completely coated. Serve hot.