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What Are Greek Potatoes?

Dan Harkins
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Mediterranean nation of Greece is renowned for both its philosophical and culinary fetes. Though many of the country's gastronomical offerings date back several thousand years, Greek potatoes are a fairly infantile development, since the tubers were not introduced to the country from the New World until the 18th century. After that, the recipe took hold as a straightforward combination of fried and seasoned potato wedges made tart with lemon juice.

It was Count Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first leader of an independent modern Greece, who introduced potatoes to the Greek populous in the early 19th century. The vegetables were a staple in South America, where his country and many other European countries were exploring for future conquest. Kapodistrias rightly believed potatoes could help end hunger in his burgeoning country — and he was correct. In 2011, the tuber is grown throughout the region as a common staple of many daily diets.

Also known as patates lemonates or "lemon potatoes," Greek potatoes are a native take on a basic recipe. The dish does not take much effort to prepare. The first step is to cut the potatoes into small, thin wedges as the oven is preheating to about 425°F (218°C). Some chefs boil the wedges for about five minutes in water, then blanch them in a bowl of ice water before the baking begins; others just dress them with vinaigrette and let the oven do all the work.

It is the dressing that turns Greek potatoes into a distinctive native treat. A combination of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, shallots or onions, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano is tossed through the potato wedges before the roasting begins. Some like celebrity chef Bobby Flay, also add chicken stock to the bottom of the pan before cooking, which is a method to prevent sticking and impart extra flavor.

It takes about 45 minutes in the oven for Greek potatoes to take on their characteristic browned appearance. Left alone, however, only some of the potatoes will be sufficiently browned. For this reason, many chefs toss the potatoes about halfway through baking them to double the areas exposed to dry heat.

Extra vinaigrette is tossed through the Greek potatoes before serving, along with some fresh uncooked parsley. A cold variation is called patatosalata or "potato salad." This involves peeled potato chunks that are merely boiled until tender, then tossed with the lemon juice, garlic, onions, oil and seasonings.

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Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Apr 04, 2012

@feruze-- I actually don't think that it's the oven which makes Greek potatoes taste so good, but the dressing.

I've been making Greek potatoes for a long time now. I discovered the recipe about 8 years ago and it has become a favorite. Overtime, I've discovered that the more ingredients you add to the dressing and the more the potatoes soak it up, the more delicious it becomes.

Olive oil and lemon juice is the base of my dressing, then I add some lemon zest to make it even more lemony and then add dried herbs and spices.

Not everyone might like the lemon flavor, buy you can replace it with anything you want- garlic, black pepper, chili pepper if you like spicy and so forth.

I like to keep my potatoes in the dressing for at least an hour before cooking and I transfer the whole thing to the oven for maximum absorption.

By ddljohn — On Apr 03, 2012

My mom is Greek and I grew up eating Greek potato salad. It was my mom's Holy Grail dish so to speak. She made it whenever she was busy and needed to feed me and my brothers. It was also a staple dish for when people came over.

My mom makes the potato salad by boiling the potatoes first. Then she cooks slivered onions and mixes these with chopped fresh parsley, green onion, chili pepper flakes, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. It is so delicious and so satisfying! Sometimes she'll put some sliced boiled eggs in it for protein too.

When I have kids, they're probably going to be growing up on this as well.

By bear78 — On Apr 02, 2012

The kind of Greek oven roasted potatoes I'm used to having is seasoned with just some olive oil and thyme or rosemary.

I personally think that the simpler the recipe is for Greek potatoes, the more delicious it becomes. Of course, the secret to the whole dish is cooking it for a long time in the oven. I don't think Greek potatoes are good any other way.

The original version might require lemon juice and other herbs, but I only like to add one herb and salt. This really brings out the flavor of the potatoes.

By the way, what kind of potatoes do Greeks traditionally use? I usually use red potatoes when I'm making this recipe because they cook faster and I can leave the skins on. I don't know if I should be using something else though.

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
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