Tapas are a really in thing. There are at least three tapas restaurants in Durham, and Durham isn’t at all a large city. Maybe they’re popular because they involve sharing, and we’re now in the epoch of the sharing economy, or maybe it’s because people like to try a little bit of everything, and you can easily order five or six tapas for two people, trying a good portion of the menu. I don’t know–all I know is that they’re popular.
Something I’ve decided about tapas restaurants, though, is that they’re pretty pricey for what you get. I’ve never had something that I didn’t like at one of them, but I just don’t understand how pan con tomate can cost $4. C’mon, people, you can buy a loaf of good bread and a few tomatoes for $5, and you’ll have over ten servings. I also feel this way about patatas bravas– C’mon, Stella, you make awesome fries and know that aioli is mayonnaise with stuff added to it— but that doesn’t always stop me from ordering the dish.
In general and at any sort of restaurant, though, I try to order food that I can’t or just don’t make at home. Sometimes I’ll order something that I probably could make at home but haven’t tried, and it’ll push me over the edge, convincing me to attempt it in my kitchen. I honestly hadn’t thought about making patatas bravas, thick cut fries covered in aioli, at home, but spotting this recipe pushed me over the edge.
Although not exactly patatas bravas, this salad basically is patatas bravas, and it is delicious. It’s the sort of thing that I nibble while I make, and then continue to pick at piece by piece once it’s assembled until I decide that it’s time to put the leftovers in the fridge. Potatoes are tossed in a hefty dose of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then they’re roasted until golden brown and perfectly crisp. After that, you dress them in a shortcut aioli: store-bought mayo mixed with A LOT of garlic, lemon juice and some Dijon mustard. It’s firey, strong and really, really addictive.
Now if you’re one of those people who hates mayonnaise, this recipe probably isn’t for you. But I’ve gotten over the image of people wrinkling their nose at me when I mention mayo, and I’ve embraced how much I like it. If you like it, you should too, and you can even sing its praises (makes sandwiches tastier, gives dips richness, this potato salad, etc) to the nose-wrinklers. Those mayo-haters don’t know what they’re missing, especially because they’re missing out on a savory, delectable dish. But that also leaves more for you, so you may not want to completely convert them. And now when you go out for tapas, you can try to be not so tempted by those fried potato nuggets of deliciousness (although no one will blame you if you cannot resist) because you have this recipe up your sleeve.
Patatas bravas salad
adapted from The Food52 Cookbook
makes 6 servings
Note: This is best the first day that it’s made. It lasts up to three days, which is around when the potatoes fully lose any crispness and lose their tenderness from time spent in the fridge.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 pounds small potatoes (red or white), scrubbed and halved
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 450F. On a rimmed baking sheet, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and the pepper. Dump the potatoes onto the sheet and mix them, ensuring that they are covered with the spice mixture on all sides. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes, turning twice, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. In a large bowl, mix together garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the cooled potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat them with the aioli. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.