In a rich tomato sauce scented with bay leaves, this simple vegan dish is part of the traditional Greek foods we cook during Lent, hence the late, brilliant Martin Brigdale chose to photograph it at Meteora, the breathtaking site in Central Greece for my first book The Foods of Greece.
Serves 2 as main course, and 4 as side dish
1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 medium onions, thickly sliced
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper, or 1/3 – 1/2 dry red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups chopped fresh or good-quality canned tomatoes
1 cup small black olives, rinsed and pitted (see how)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large, heavy, deep, non-reactive skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat and sauté the potatoes until they turn a golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. They don’t need to cook through because they will continue cooking in the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375º F (200 C)
Remove the potatoes from the skillet and add the onions. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes, then add the garlic and chili pepper. After a few seconds, pour in the wine and add the oregano, tomatoes, and olives. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
Place the potatoes in a clay or glass ovenproof pan that can hold them in 1 layer. Pour the sauce over them, and bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes – adding a little water if needed – or until the potatoes are tender. Taste after 15 minutes and add more salt if necessary – beware though, the olives are already quite salty – or more chili pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve either hot or at room temperature.