This post was originally shared October 2014. Text and images have been updated.
Emotional eating gets a bad rep, but frankly, the alternative doesn't sound all that fun. Who wants to be an emotionless eater?? Not I.
On a biological level, it's pretty near impossible to completely divorce emotion from food. As human beings, we need food to survive, and so our bodies are hardwired to experience a pleasure response when we eat.
We also hold thousands of memories of food and eating experiences, and those memories (positive or negative) will impact how we feel when we eat in the present. For example, patatas bravas is a dish that will always make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, because I have so many happy memories eating it.
There was the first time I remember trying patatas bravas, when Scott and I went to San Diego 10 years ago - our very first trip together. We went to Cafe Sevilla and drank sangria and ate paella and patatas bravas and ceviche, and I'm pretty sure I decided I could marry him because he was so much fun to travel with.
There was the time the hubs was out of town, and I was bored, so I created a giant tapas spread all for myself. I ate leftover patatas bravas, spanish omelette, manchego cheese, anchovies in vinegar, and marcona almonds for days. It felt so luxurious to create such a pretty spread all for myself.
Then there was the time I had patatas bravas with my aunt in Mallorca, our first tapas of the trip after an afternoon wandering the winding, narrow passageways of Palma. Or the time we ate patatas bravas on a beautiful patio overlooking the valley around Valldemossa. Or the time we ate patatas bravas while people watching in Port Soller. We ate a lot of patatas bravas on that trip...
This recipe is my pretty successful attempt at creating patatas bravas at home. If you've never had patatas bravas before, it's a traditional tapas dish of fried or roasted potatoes tossed or drizzled with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. My recipes is not quite as perfect as washing it down with a glass of Spanish wine on the terrace of a 500 year old building, but it gives me similar feel goods. The crispy potatoes tossed with a spicy sauce and drizzle with garlicky aioli just makes me feel happy inside.
To get your roasted potatoes extra crispy, I like to cut them into rounds, because the cut surface gets crispier. Freshly cooked and tossed with the spicy tomato sauce is best, because it preserves the crunch, but you won't be sad about leftovers either.
This sauce is tasty and versatile, so you'll be happy that the recipe leaves room for leftovers. I think it would also be tasty drizzled over a grain bowl, as a spicy pasta sauce, served with a frittata, or with grilled meats. The traditional sauce served with patatas bravas is a simple tomato sauce spiked with plenty of hot smoked paprika. I made mine a little more romesco sauce-like by thickening it with almonds and roasting the vegetables for more smoky flavor. I also added a bit of harissa for more of a kick, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer less spice or don't have it on hand.
While this dish is traditionally served as an appetizer, I like to round it out into a meal by serving it with garlicky sauteed kale and a fried egg. Yolk porn + smoky tomato sauce + crispy potatoes = ohhhh yeah!
Patatas Bravas with Smoky Romesco Sauce and Garlic Aioli
Serves: whatever you're hungry for!
- 1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into thick slices
- 1/2 red onion, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon harissa (optional)
- 1/4 cup parsley
- Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup maynnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 very small garlic clove, minced
- First, make the sauce. Preheat oven to broil. Toss the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and garlic with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet and place under the broiler until tender and very lightly charred in spots, about 2-3 minutes total. Check to make sure the garlic doesn't burn - you might need to remove it after a minute or two when it's golden.
- Squeeze garlic into a food processor or high powered blender with the broiled vegetables, almonds, balsamic, paprika, harissa and parsley. Blend until pureed and smooth. Season with salt to taste.
- Reduce heat in oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast 25 minutes. Flip, and roast for another 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
- While potatoes are roasting, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil to make aioli.
- Toss hot potatoes with some of the romesco sauce in a serving dish. Drizzle with aioli. Serve immediately.
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