How cute are these little hedgehog potatoes? I made them literally months ago, when there was just a hint of summer in the air, and soon the thought of posting them seemed utterly ridiculous in the melting summer heat. Hard to believe, though, that it’s already November and even here in Southern California there have been days when this variation on baked potatoes seems terrifically appropriate again. (Admittedly, autumnal days like that are few and far between, but still, it’s nice to imagine the falling leaves and crisp air.)
I can’t take credit for dreaming up this innovative idea for seasoning potatoes nor for the charming name- they come from Heidi Swanson‘s second cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s a gorgeous cookbook- the photos are absolutely lovely and the recipes all look divine. My only complaint is that it’s not the sort of food that most of us can just whip up from what’s lying around in our pantries. There are all sorts of unusual ingredients like amaranth and hijiki, things that require not only a trip to the store, but often a little sleuthing to figure out what stores might have them. This simple little recipe is one of the few that was ready to go with just what I had on hand in the house. (And even then I had to substitute Achiote powder for harissa.)
In this case, the recipe is perhaps more about the technique than the ingredients- by slicing the potatoes almost, but not quite, all the way through, you not only get the “hedgehog effect” but also effectively create dozens of little pockets in which to add the herbs and spices of your choosing. Pretty clever, no? And if you use tri-color potatoes (always available at Trader Joe’s!) , the aesthetic effect is doubly interesting. Finally, if you go for pungent, bold spices in your hedgehog potatoes, try making Heidi’s cooling yogurt-mint dipping sauce to go alongside them.
Baked purple hedgehog potatoes with yogurt-mint dipping sauce (serves 4-6)
8-12 smallish new potatoes (preferably of assorted colors)
6 large cloves of garlic, sliced into very-thin rounds
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp harissa (we substituted Achiote powder)
fine-grain sea salt
For the yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375. Wash and dry the potatoes (scrub if very dirty). Act as though you were going to cut each potato into very thin crosswise slices, but cut only about 80% of the way through (the potatoes need to stay intact).
2. Toss the garlic, olive oil, harissa (or other spices of your choosing), and a couple of pinches of salt together in a small bowl. Tuck garlic slices into crevices of potatoes and rub the outside of the potatoes with any leftover harissa-spiked olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and place them on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20 minutes or until tender.
3. While the potatoes are baking, make the dipping sauce. Combine yogurt, mint, cilantro, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl and stir well. Serve the potatoes with the dipping sauce on the side or drizzled on top.