I judge breakfast the same way I judge people: how they handle a potato. If you dish up hash browns charred and greasy on the outside but almost raw on the inside – that’s cute, but no. Sans onion? Sans garlic? No thought as to how to season these flavor vehicles from the heavens? Get out of my house. You have hot sauce but only Tabasco? Yeah, go back to Denny’s.
All I’m saying is it’s the little things (side dishes) that count, and if you don’t care for your tots, the whole breakfast will fall apart on a foundation of lies and cheap oil.
There is an easy fix to these food crimes, though. I was recently in the middle of a potato rut myself: I had 5 pounds of russet beauties and no ideas. I’d made the same basic hash four weekends in a row. I’d been munching on baked potatoes like they were apples, and mashing piles of them just for the arm workout. And then, like a miracle from Mr. Potato Head himself, I opened my spice cabinet for inspiration and dozens of jars plunged onto my head. All those head bops got me out of the rut; I picked up the long-forgotten sumac and rarely used oregano, started thinking about Mediterranean flavors, and got to experimenting.
I like to call these passive potatoes with aggressive flavor, and there are a million reasons why you should make these ASAP and all the time: this dish requires minimal use of kitchenware. It doesn’t require a lot of active cooking time – you chop shit and let the oven do the rest. The ingredients are easy on the wallet. It’s great for an all-carbohydrate diet and perfect for people who want to stop pretending like paleo is a real *thing*. AND these oven-roasted nuggets have their own marvelous, SUPER EASY dipping sauce. Think caramelized onions and peppers of traditional breakfast tots with the brightness of sumac and lemon, plus smoky spices. Pair that with creamy tahini and you’ve got a superbly satisfying potato dish. Your stomach and brunch pals alike will be so be impressed that they’ll finally understand Denny’s is not a restaurant, it’s a pancake and potato dumpster.
This recipe serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 medium russet potatoes
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 small red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 tbs coconut oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
- Pinch of cumin
- Optional: pinch of cayenne
- Optional: 3 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Dice the onion and red pepper. Cut the potato and sweet potato into ~3/4 inch cubes. Mince the garlic. Dump everything in a large bowl and toss the rest of the ingredients (minus the lemon) in there – the oil, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, sumac, cumin, and optional cayenne – and mix until everything is incorporated. Evenly spread the mixture on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are browned and crisp, and the onions and peppers look close to charring. You’ll want to agitate the potatoes about twice while cooking so they crisp evenly.
When they’re done, take the pan out of the oven and squeeze half a lemon over the tots. Dust with a pinch of sumac for additional tartness. Top with the optional scallions and serve immediately.
Tahini dipping Sauce
- 1/3 c warm water
- 4 tbs tahini
- 4 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 large garlic clove (or two small), minced
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup
- Several dashes of your favorite hot sauce, i.e., Krystal or Cholula or you’re fucking dead to me
- Salt to taste
**BONUS** Tahini Ketchup
- 1 jalapeño
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 scallion, white/light green parts only
- 5 tbs ketchup
- 2 tbs tahini
- 3 tbs water
- 1/2 lemon
- A couple dashes of soy sauce
- Salt to taste
Make either of these while the potatoes are in the oven. For the first sauce, mix together the tahini, warm water, garlic, maple syrup, lemon, hot sauce, and salt. I like to put it in a jar and shake it up, but you can also whisk everything in a bowl. Add more or less water to achieve your desired consistency. I prefer it on the thin side – just a little thinner than ketchup.
[The second sauce is a new development – i.e., I made it on a whim and really liked it, but I haven’t played with different iterations and I haven’t had it tested by other people. Try it out if you have the ingredients and the time.] While the potatoes are roasting, place the garlic cloves on the baking sheet and let them hang out in the oven for 20 minutes. Put the jalapeño (whole) and scallion directly on rack in the oven. Char for 5 minutes, then flip them over. Juice the 1/2 lemon. Cut the stem of the jalapeño off and put the charred ingredients in a food processor with the ketchup, water, tahini, soy sauce, salt, and lemon juice and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add another tablespoon of water.
Tips & Tricks
- You will have leftover sauce. You’re welcome.
- Ok, about the coconut oil. I adore it, especially on sweet potatoes and peppers; others are too sensitive to the coconut flavor it gives to the rest of the food. You can sub olive oil or a neutral oil.
- WTF is sumac and where do I get it? Refer to my old post about Fattoush Salad.
- For additional smokiness, use smoked paprika instead of the regular stuff.
- The tahini ketchup’s flavor improves with time. I enjoyed it even more after letting the mixture chill in the fridge for a day!
- You know what the best thing is? Toast some hearty olive boule or rye bread, slather it with your favorite buttery spread or smashed avocado, sprinkle nutritional yeast on it, and then top it with these potatoes. Nothing says “to die for” like pre-diabetic blood sugar levels.