When a new Mediterranean speakeasy-style restaurant from the mastermind behind New York’s Bread’s Bakery was announced, you can bet we hustled our little Hamentashens straight to Lamalo inside the Arlo Hotel here in New York City to see what the clatter was about. What we found was a trove of warm, fresh flavors inspired mostly by the Mediterranean and Middle East, some of the best darn meze we’d ever tasted, and one dip I still think about at least once a week. No, really.
Meze, if you’re not familiar, are Middle Eastern or Mediterranean small plates often served with laffa or pita bread as part of a multi-course meal or as salty snacks to accompany pre-dinner drinks. There are truly countless meze and, depending on what part of the world you’re in, you’ll find a unique mix of recipes like roasted eggplant dips (baba ganoush), creamy whipped feta, or savory strained yogurt with spiced oil, known as labneh. Hummus is a staple meze, of course, as are other tahini dips with za’atar, a popular spice pervasive in meze and Middle Eastern cooking. As I worked my way through Lamalo’s inspired meze selections served with their signature sesame laffa, one particularly creamy, garlicky, and potato-y dip rose above the fray. I had to have the recipe.
Hamilton Beach Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper, $45 on Amazon
The only kitchen tool you'll need to make this heavenly dip.
Though owner Gadi Peleg is from Israel, his team at Lamalo is wholly undiscerning about where their recipes originate, just so long as they’re good, and at least vaguely Mediterranean. This is how I discovered skordalia (pictured in the middle of the header image), a popular Greek meze dip made from cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, loads of raw garlic, good oil, and almonds. Skordalia satiates that same starchy craving space that might otherwise be reserved for mashed potatoes, but is free from heavy butter and served at room temp—making it pitch-perfect for summer.
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Skordalia is simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients and will guarantee star-status at your next summer potluck or BBQ. Pureed raw garlic gives the smooth potato dip a sharp bite and subtle heat—as raw garlic will—a perfect dip to heap on top of fresh-baked pita or sesame laffa bread. Use slightly less garlic and skordalia transforms into a wonderful summer side dish to pair with lamb burgers, fish, or any other grilled summer goods. A truly international update on potato salad or “summer mashed potatoes,” if I may take liberties, and if you can’t make it into Lamalo yourself, they’ve graciously bestowed a simple skordalia recipe upon us to make at home.
Skordalia (Greek Potato Garlic Dip)
- 1 pound sliced almonds
- 2 ounces bread with crust removed
- 4.2 ounces Yukon Gold potato, baked and peeled
- 4 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped or grated with Microplane
- 5.3 ounces apple cider vinegar
- 17 ounces vegetable oil
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 9 ounces water
- chives for garnish
- Salt the potatoes then bake at 350 degrees until tender.
- Cool and peel potatoes.
- Combine almonds, bread, potatoes, and garlic in a food processor and blend until all incorporated but still semi-chunky.
- Drizzle in the water and vinegar while blending on low.
- Slowly drizzle in the oil while blending on low until emulsified.
- Season with salt, top with a few sliced chives & almonds and serve with warm pita, laffa bread, or as a side.
Sur La Table Olivewood Bowl, $40 on Sur la Table
Skordalia is best served in a gorgeous Olivewood bowl such as this.
Header image courtesy of Francesco Sapienza