A recent short escape to Tenerife in the Canary Islands in search of sun gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with one of the great Canarian specialities: papas arrugadas which translates as wrinkled potatoes. I had forgotten how deliciously savoury they are and since I was rather disappointed in the mojos which accompanied them in many of the restaurants, I made the dish on my return following the recipe I developed a number of years ago for my vegan cookery book, Vegan Cookbook The Essential Guide, which was reprinted earlier this year as The Essential Vegan Cookbook. My mojos are certainly far more gutsy than those I tasted in Tenerife, and the whole dish makes a delicious light lunch or can be featured as part of a tapas type spread. This is my original recipe.
‘Papas arrugadas’, wrinkled potatoes, are a speciality of the Canary Islands. Fresh water was a scarce commodity on these Spanish islands off the coast of Africa and the potatoes are historically cooked in sea water, which shrivels them and wrinkles the skin, giving them a wonderfully savoury (and not particularly salty!) flavour as well as a creamy, dense texture. They are traditionally served with two fresh, spicy, very garlicky sauces, known as ‘mojos’: red mojo or Mojo Rojo is based on red peppers and tomatoes, while green mojo or Mojo Verde is bright with fresh coriander/cilantro.
Smoked paprika or pimentón is available in the spice section of most supermarkets but I love the organic version from Steenbergs of Yorkshire which has the ideal balance of heat and smokiness.
Serves 2 as a lunch dish with a salad
1 kg small new potatoes (ideally the size of a walnut), scrubbed
500 g coarse sea salt such as Maldon Sea Salt Flakes or Geo Organics Atlantic Sea Salt
2 tbsp + 125 ml + 200 ml olive oil
1 medium red pepper, about 150 g, grilled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp ground cumin
125 g tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón) or to taste
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
80 g fresh coriander/cilantro
1 hottish green chilli, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lime or emon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add the coarse salt and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes, depending on size. Drain and return to the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir well to coat.
Make the two mojos while the potatoes are cooking. Skin and deseed the pepper and chop the flesh coarsely. Place in a food processor with 125 ml of olive oil, 1 garlic clove, half the cumin, the tomatoes, paprika, vinegar and some seasoning and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It needs to be quite punchy.
Rinse out the bowl of the food processor. Place the remaining olive oil, garlic and cumin in it along with the coriander, chilli, lemon juice and some seasoning, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. This one needs to be bright and tangy.
Grind some black pepper into the potatoes and shake them around gently.
Serve immediately with the mojos.
And what about this recipe’s nutrient profile? Well, potatoes, though high in carbohydrates, offer fibre, protein, Vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese and magnesium. Olive oil? Powerfully anti-inflammatory. Garlic? Hugely anti-oxidant, Vitamins B6 and C, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron and copper. Red peppers? Lycopene, beta carotene and Vitamin C, and rich in anti-oxidants. Tomatoes? Vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Coriander? Anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and helps to remove toxic metals from the body. In fact, a real nutritional powerhouse!