Potatoes with harissa, feta and dill
This was absolutely an improvisation; I’d been traveling and had very few vegetables in the house on my return, but found a few waxy potatoes lying around along with a hunk of feta and a package of dill that was still good. That got me to thinking of Middle Eastern flavors and 15 minutes later I was eating an entire recipe of this as my own breakfast. Almost a Middle Eastern take on home fries. And actually, you know if you wanted to have this as an even more substantial breakfast, a fried egg between the potatoes and the feta would be amazing.
But really this dish would be more appropriate as part of a meze, a selection of small dishes to make a meal. For that use, I would serve it warm or at room temperature. Serve this up with good pita, good hummus, real tabbouleh, maybe a tomato salad and chickpea fritters and you’d have a fress.
I cooked the potatoes entirely in the skillet, but you could also par-cook them in the microwave or salted boiling water to ensure more even and faster cooking in the skillet.
Harissa is a Moroccan spice paste that is quite hot; don’t use the full 2 teaspoons if you don’t order 4 stars at your local Thai place.
The harissa and preserved lemons that I keep around are usually from Mustaphas Moroccan. Delicious stuff, and they keep a long time so they are convenient to have on hand whenever dinner needs a little extra oomph. Other ideas for using them: quick mango pickle (amba), sabich, zucchini and chickpea tagine. I also like to spread harissa on the barely adequate delivery pizza we get sometimes.
Vegetarian, vegan if you omit the feta, and gluten free
Serves 2-3 as a side dish or part of a meze
- 1 generous tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 3/4 pound potatoes, 1/2″ dice (skins on is fine) – Yukon Golds would be a nice choice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste (check ingredients if you need gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon (check ingredients if you need gluten free)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (omit or replace for vegan)
- Sumac powder (optional)
- Fresh dill
- Add the olive oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook for 1 minute, until it begins to soften. Add the potatoes, harissa, preserved lemon, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside and tender in the middle. It helps to cover the pot so that the tops of the potatoes are steaming a bit while the bottoms are browning. Uncover for the last couple of minutes.
- To serve, taste and adjust seasoning. You might need more salt, harissa, or preserved lemon. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with the feta cheese, a sprinkle of sumac and a very generous amount of fresh dill (leaves and tender stems).