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Lemon roasted potatoes

One of the most overlooked ingredients in our pantries may just be the humble lemon. A tangy squirt of lemon (or its cousin the lime, which I use almost interchangeably) can wake up the flavors in just about any dish, sweet or savory, as effectively as a dash of salt.

In fact, although I've got nothing against sodium chloride, a dose of mouth-watering citrus can supplement or even replace the familiar salt shaker. (Try rubbing a wedge of lime along your next corn on the cob for a surprising revelation.)

But how often do you think about using lemon as a significant ingredient in a dish?

The online community in our interactive Food Lovers' Discussion Group gets more inspiration along these lines than your average home chef, thanks to the presence in our group of an enthusiastic advocate of the lemon. Bill Spencer, who grows lemons commercially on his Arizona ranch, is a ready source of lemon-related recipes and information, and we're in his debt for today's featured dish, in which lemon and herb flavors elevate simple roasted potatoes to a new level.

Bill adapted his version from a recipe from The Moosewood Collective, "New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant." I've tweaked it a little further, and of course you're invited to do the same!

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two as a main dish or four as a side dish)

1 1/2 pounds small red or white new potatoes
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1 medium to large fresh lemon
1 or 2 cloves garlic
Salt (coarse sea salt is ideal)
Black pepper
Fresh oregano or other herb or herbs of your choice
2 ounces feta cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 F. While it's heating, scrub the potatoes and cut the larger ones in half or quarters. (Small pieces allow plenty of surface, both to absorb the lemon, oil and herb flavors and to provide crisp, roasted edge bits.)

2. Mince the garlic and chop the oregano or other fresh herbs fine. In a small bowl or cup, mix the olive oil and lemon juice; stir in the minced garlic, salt and pepper and a generous amount of chopped fresh herbs to taste. CAUTION: Lemons vary widely in the amount of juice they produce and their acidity. All our forum participants who've made this dish have loved it, but some reported that the finished product can be quite tangy. I suggest tasting the olive-lemon mix as you go, and add a little more oil, or white wine, if it seems more sour than you think you'll like.

3. Toss the potato pieces with the oil-and-lemon mixture until they're coated well, and place them in a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. Cover the dish tightly with foil and put it in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, carefully remove the foil and turn the potatoes gently with a spatula. Roast 10 more minutes uncovered, turn the potatoes again, and continue roasting for another 10 minutes or so or until the ptoatoes are tender and golden brown. Crumble the feta cheese, sprinkle over the top, and serve hot.

This dish is hearty enough to serve as a meatless main course, but as Bill points out, it's especially good with grilled fish, where the lemon makes a natural match, or for that matter with any grilled meat or chicken.

MATCHING WINE: As noted, this dish can be quite tangy, enough to pose a challenge for wine matching. If you're serving it as your main course, take care to hold the lemony acidity in perspective, as noted above. As a main course, I would serve it with a crisp white wine - a Sauvignon Blanc on the dry side or perhaps a Spanish Albarino. If you're serving it as a side dish, match your wine to the main course and let the potatoes come along for the ride.

Here's a link to Bill's version of this recipe in our online forum:

 Lemon roasted potatoes
(Remember, if your E-mail software breaaks this and the other long links to our forum messages in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter the address in your Web browser.)

And here are links to a variety of other tasty lemon dishes that he has contributed:

 Lemon tarragon chicken

 Grilled lemon sage chicken

 Lemon finadine sauce

 Lemon linguine

 Fresh lemon pasta

 Lemon marmalade

 Lemon curd

 Lemon dessert sauce

 Lemon "Delicious," a simple, "scrumptious" lemon dessert:

Discuss this recipe in our online forum:
Finally, if you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this dish or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Lemon roasted potatoes":
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

Let us hear from you!

If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can.

Of course you also have a standing invitation to participate in our interactive Food Lovers' Discussion Group. To participate in this friendly online community, simply click to
and feel free to reply to any topic or start a new one.

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Salmon and pasta (again) (Sept. 11)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

30 Second Wine Advisor archive:


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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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