I recently tried a similar dish at a Lebanese restaurant in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. I was eying a fava bean appetizer, but when I ordered it, the wise server glanced at my dining companion, not a big fan of legumes, and quickly said, "You should get the fries. They're really good."
And so it was decided.
Turned out, she was right – they were really good. Dusted with lemony sumac and served with a garlic mousse, they disappeared very quickly. When our server returned, I had to ask about the dip – it was obviously packed with garlic, but what gave it the slightly creamy texture? "Potatoes," she replied. Genius!
I've thickened soups with pureed vegetables before, but I hadn't thought of doing it with a dip. It's a great trick through – and a great way to cut out some of the fat when snacking.
Sumac-Dusted Oven Fries with Garlic Spread
4 medium-sized russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons sumac
Preheat oven to 350. Peel potatoes. Cut one potato in half and set aside one of the halves. Slice the remaining potatoes into 1/2-inch strips. Toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake 30-35 minutes, giving them a stir every 10 minutes or so.
Roughly chop the reserved potato half. Bring to a boil in salted water and cook until soft. Drain and roughly mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, make a paste with the head of garlic. Follow Emma's instructions here. Place garlic into a food processor or blender and add 2 tablespoons of mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons of water. Add a little more potato or water as necessary. You want the spread to come together, but it won't be super creamy.*
When the fries are done, remove from oven and toss with sumac. Serve with spread on the side.
*Note: Conceivably, you could skip the garlic paste process and toss the whole cloves into the blender or food processor with some salt. But this was the process I used (with a hand blender), with good results.
To give credit where due, the recipe was inspired by a dish from Semiramis in Chicago.
Related: Ingredient Spotlight: Sumac
(Images: Joanna Miller)