When a new Mediterranean speakeasy-style restaurant from the mastermind behind New York’s Bread’s Bakery opened last year, you can bet we hustled our little hamentashens straight to Lamalo inside the Arlo Hotel to see what the clatter was about. What we found was a trove of warm, fresh coastal flavors inspired mostly by the Mediterranean and the Middle East, some of the best darn mezes we’d had in a long time, and one dip I still think about at least once a week. No, really.
Meze, if you’re not familiar, are Middle Eastern or Mediterranean small plates often served with some bread— laffa or pita bread—as part of a multi-course meal or as salty snacks to accompany pre-dinner drinks. There are countless types of meze and, depending on what part of the world you’re in, you’ll find a unique mix of recipes like roasted eggplant dips (baba ganoush), creamy whipped feta dip, or savory strained yogurt with spiced oil, known as labneh. Hummus is a staple meze, of course, as are other tahini dips with za’atar; a popular spice pervasive in Middle Eastern cooking.
As I worked my way through Lamalo’s inspired meze selections, served with signature sesame laffa, one particularly creamy, garlicky, and potato-y dip rose above the fray. I had to know more.
Though owner Gadi Peleg is from Israel, his team at Lamalo is wholly undiscerning about where their recipes originate, just so long as they’re good and, it seems, at least vaguely Mediterranean. This includes their skordalia (pictured center in the header image), a popular Greek meze dip made from cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, loads of raw garlic, oil, and almonds. Skordalia satiates that same starchy craving space that might otherwise be reserved for mashed potatoes but is free from heavy butter and is often served at room temp, making it perfect for summer adventures that lead us far from the stovetop.
Skordalia is simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients and will guarantee star-status at your next summer potluck or BBQ. Pureed raw garlic gives the smooth potato dip a sharp bite and subtle heat—as raw garlic will—a perfect dip to heap on top of fresh-baked pita or sesame laffa bread. Use slightly less garlic and skordalia transforms into a wonderful summer side dish to pair with lamb burgers, fish, or any other protein you can fit on the grill. A truly international update on potato salad or “summer mashed potatoes” and if you can’t make it into Lamalo yourself, they’ve graciously bestowed a simple skordalia recipe upon us to make at home.
Skordalia (Greek Potato Garlic Dip)
- 1/2 pound sliced almonds
- 2 ounces bread with crust removed
- 4 Yukon Gold potato, baked and peeled
- 4 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped or grated with microplane
- 5.3 ounces apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 9 ounces water
- chives for garnish
- Salt the potatoes then bake at 350 degrees until tender.
- Cool and peel potatoes.
- Combine almonds, bread, potatoes, and garlic in a food processor and blend until all incorporated but still semi-chunky.
- Drizzle in the water and vinegar while blending on low.
- Slowly drizzle in the oil while blending on low until emulsified.
- Season with salt, top with a few sliced chives & almonds and serve with warm pita, laffa bread, or as a side.