Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's all Greek to me

There is an awesome Greek restaurant in Highland Park, NJ called Pithari Taverna. It's small and unassuming...across from a gas station and surrounded by residential homes. My sister in law introduced us to it and it was love at first bite. I've always wanted to travel to Greece--it was my first honeymoon choice. Until we found out November weather in Greece is similar to November weather in NJ...Not exactly the sunny, warm, spend-half-your-time-on-amazing-beaches-and-the-other-half-enjoying-amazing-historical-sites-kind of weather. I feel like Pithari Tavern brings me closer to the experience, though. Somehow we always get the same waitress and she explains why some things on the menu aren't in season or available because of the time of year or upcoming holiday. Greek cuisine seems to hail from similar locavore roots as that of Italy. The Mediterranean influence is familiar to me, being half Italian (that's half Italian from Italy, not half Italian from Brooklyn)  but there are Middle Eastern influences that keep me guessing! A favorite side dish at Pithari Taverna is Lemon Potatoes. They're perfectly tart but the lemon isn't overpowering. You can taste the Greek olive oil and garlic too. Crispy on the outside but creamy inside it's an unforgettable combination. Last week I dared to try to recreate it at home!

Here is the recipe I used by Anthony Gougoutris on

3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes or other waxy potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth

  1. Cut peeled potatoes in half or wedges. Let them stand in water while preparing sauce.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a gallon size zipper bag and shake to combine.
  3. Dry off the potatoes and put all of them in the bag. Let marinate for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put potatoes in a large casserole dish.
  5. Roast for 1 hour 10 min turning occasionally, until fork tender. There should be plenty of sauce leftover after roasting.
  6. Crisp under the broiler for 5 minutes if you prefer.
My potatoes came out super lemony which made them slightly too tart. I couldn't taste the oregano or olive oil and the garlic was lost. While the directions don't specify to dump all the marinade in the casserole, it mentioned having plenty of sauce leftover so that's what I did. Next time, I'll use fewer lemons, roast them in a much smaller amount of sauce and definitely let them crisp a bit more. None of these differences deterred us from enjoying every last spud, though.

The first night they were a side dish with chicken cutlets and mixed salad. We finished them off two mornings later in a frittata-like breakfast dish. I warmed the potatoes in a nonstick pan, tossed in some spinach to melt, added 3 whole eggs and 3 egg whites previously whisked, topped with sun dried tomatoes and a few
crumbles of feta cheese. A savory way to start the day!

1 comment:

  1. Now I want Greek food! And I appreciate the clarification that we are half Italian from Italy, and not half Italian from Brooklyn or Jersey. ;)