Last week K went off to America for work, and I hatched the improbably ambitious plan of redecorating the bedroom and study to surprise him on his return. Fortunately, I had backup in the shape of my amazing mum, who came round most nights after I finished work to lend a hand and chivvy me along through my darkest moments of DIY despair! But with every spare minute after work taken up sanding, painting and varnishing, I’m not ashamed to tell you that cooking and eating properly went completely out of the window. In fact, dinner most nights consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich, eaten off a toolbox in the middle of the lounge floor, with only the weak glow of the streetlamps outside for light! My poor mum. Must remember to show her a better time.
Despite my atrocious hospitality, with her amazing help we were able to finish the two rooms in record time. But now recovering from my week of DIY madness, I’ve found myself craving proper food again. Something comforting but healthy. Something emphatically not a ham and cheese sandwich! So this weekend I fell back on an old recipe I’ve been whipping up for years. My dill and dijon smashed potatoes.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that my aesthetic errs very much on the side of ‘lazy’. But I really do think there’s something to be said for it. Take potatoes, for example. Sure, I love a good mashed potato. But why go to all that effort of mashing, pureeing and whipping your potatoes to within an inch of their lives when a lazy prod with a wooden spoon will compel the skin to split and the fluffy yellow interior to tumble out enthusiastically? My favourite thing about ‘smashing’ potatoes in this way is that they retain an earthy potatoey-ness so often lost in a mash, and they keep a bit of their substance too.
Best of all, they cry out for a few additions. I’ve made all sorts of variations over the years, from stirring in fried onions, to crumbling in feta and pumpkin seeds. But over time I’ve settled on my favourite combination of flavours – tangy dijon mustard and aromatic dill, pepped up by the addition of some finely diced spring onion and little fragments of sliced gherkin.
With its tartar sauce-esque flavours, these smashed potatoes make a fantastic accompaniment for fish – especially hot smoked salmon. But they’re also a great kicker for a roast or rotisserie chicken, and stand up perfectly well on their own the next day as a potato salad!
For me, tucking into these lovely smashed potatoes topped with sliced smoked salmon heralded the return of normality this weekend. Although I fear it may be a little short lived! K is off again this week, this time to Gambia, and there’s a hallway and kitchen that still need painting…
- 750 new potatoes
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped
- 9 mini gherkins / cornichons, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped dill, fresh or dried
- 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
- Sea salt, to season
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and add the new potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes or until a knife pushed into one of the larger potatoes slides in easily.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pan.
- Using a masher or a large wooden spoon, slightly crush the potatoes until their skins split and they begin to crumble. (Handy hint - wash up your utensil now before the potato dries onto it and refuses to budge - you'll thank me later!)
- Add the other ingredients and stir to combine. Leave to rest for 10 minutes for the spring onion to soften in the heat of the new potatoes, then serve.