“I feel like the ‘Greatest Hits’ is a homegrown remedy for love” ~ Al Green
Last year I spent time refreshing all of the old posts and recipes here at The Veggies. At first, I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, but little by little, the project began to grow on me. It turned out to be a bit like looking through an old high school yearbook, or photo album dedicated to only the prom. All dressed up, and yet, where are you going?!
Admittedly, I cringed a little as I delved deeper into the archives. Photos are blurry and low-resolution or oddly cropped thanks to website redesigns. There is food propped up with random objects that must have seemed like a good idea, at the time(?) If you’re anything like me when searching a new site for recipes, I might pass up these relics from years gone by. 2013? The stone ages!
At the same time, I also found myself thinking with great delight, “Oh my gosh, I remember that one. It’s so good!” And ever since it’s been a season of greatest hits. The tried and true, delicious recipes that I resurrected and have had on repeat. And I think you should too.
Truth be told, if it weren’t for the blog, I’d be a hopelessly redundant eater. Content to repeat the same handful of recipes over and over (and over and over and over). Recipes I know as if they’re part of my DNA, the way I know my name, the alphabet, and lyrics to songs on the radio during the years Ronald Regan was president.
I’ve made Brunswick Stew three times now, which reminds me of the dive bar in Charleston, where we first fell in love with it. So deceptively simple yet so deeply flavorful and satisfying. There was a 6-pound Brisket, because it was on sale at Costco, and really, who can resist this smokey, and saucy two-day slow-cooking affair?
I made a batch of the Tater Tot Casserole for my daughter because it’s the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, and in a moment of uncharacteristic foresight, put a second in our freezer as well.
Spaghetti and Meatballs are a standard at dinner parties. The only problem is we’re running out of friend groups that we haven’t made it for yet. Classic tomato soup (with melty grilled cheese) is simple, luscious, and as soul-soothing as a cat purring on your lap. Not to mention the Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas, which are a great way to eat a lot of veggies without feeling like you’re eating a lot of veggies.
We go through crazy amounts of Maple Granola, which we sprinkle on yogurt. I’m always making big batches; switching up the mix-ins makes it feel new and fresh, plus, it and comes out amazing every time. One day my tombstone might recite this Breakfast Casserole, which I’ve done so many different ways. On second thought, maybe the Greek Yogurt Pancakes because they make mornings happier.
There are the Ina Garten recipes for Meatloaf and her Unforgettable Beef Stew that lurk in our archives, like postcards from another time in history. But those who know, know they’re good ones. And the Slow-Cooker Three-Bean Casserole will forever be my signature dish.
My husband craves the Ginger, Apricot, and Chocolate Cookies every day of his life. He loves them so much that he even hoards them and tries to keep all the extras for himself. (ps: I have a deep respect for his sugary selfishness) Simple Chocolate Birthday Cake is pure homemade birthday love. And the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are the best you’ll ever taste (with a secret ingredient my grandma swore by).
Another dish we’ve had on repeat, that’s destined to become a greatest hit? Smashed Potatoes. After running across this recipe from Bon Appetit, they’ve been part of our regular rotation.
It’s a brilliant technique; baby potatoes are boiled, smashed, drizzled with oil, and roasted at high heat until crisp. They’re incredible served over a bed of tangy Greek yogurt or sour cream. Even better with spoonfuls of this walnut sauce, which is the ultimate umami bomb.
The perfect crunchy to creamy balance. Simple and beyond good.
A few tips?
Use a large baking sheet – You’ll want a large enough surface to accommodate all the potatoes while leaving a little breathing room around each one.
Oil your baking sheet – Usually, I line baking sheets with parchment paper, but not these. Oiling yours first will be a bit more painful on the clean-up side, but your potatoes will be that much crispier.
Start the potatoes in cold water – So they’ll cook evenly (if you add potatoes to hot water, the outsides will turn mushy before the insides are tender)
Avoid overcooking – Take your potatoes out of the boiling water when they’re just fork-tender. If not, they’ll be too mushy, and you won’t get a very good smash
Smashing – Lots of recipes recommend smashing with a baking sheet, but I’ve found it just as easy (and less clean-up) to smash them with my hands. Let them cool in a colander until they’re easy to handle, and transfer them to a baking sheet before crushing them slightly with your palm.
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit
Smashed Potatoes with Walnut Dressing
- 2 lbs mixed baby potatoes
- 1 cup Diamond Crystal salt (or ½ cup Morton kosher salt) + more
- ⅔ cup olive oil, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tbsp golden raisins
- 4 tsp Aleppo-style (or other mild red pepper flakes)
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mixed tender herbs, such as parsley, dill, cilantro, and/or basil
- Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450° and oil a rimmed baking sheet
- Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 cup salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low, bring to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are just cooked through and pierced easily with a fork, about 15 minutes (time will vary depending on the size of your potatoes; be careful not to overcook as they’ll fall apart when smashed).
- Drain and allow to cool until you're able to handle them. Transfer potatoes to the baking sheet. Let cool slightly.
- Use the palm of your hand to smash the potatoes each one (alternately, use another rimmed baking sheet on top, or the bottom of a mug or measuring cup)
- Drizzle ⅓ cup oil over potatoes, then toss to coat; season lightly with salt and black pepper. Roast potatoes until they're crispy and golden brown (~ 35–40 minutes)
- To a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the walnuts, anchovies, and remaining ⅓ cup oil.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until the anchovies have disintegrated and the walnuts are golden brown (~ 6–8 minutes)
- Transfer to a small bowl, finely grate the garlic over, and toss to combine. Mix in raisins and Aleppo-style pepper; season with salt.
Finish and Serve
- Spread Greek yogurt (or sour cream) on a large plate. Top with potatoes and spoon walnut sauce over.
- Scatter herbs over and serve.
After drooling over your amazing recipes for so long I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to actually get round to making one – and what a one to start with, as it was really tasty. I used non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and I threw in baby spinach, herbs de Provence, and some toasted pine nuts and it was DELICIOUS! Thank you Ali!