Tunisian Potato & Olive Salad

Tender creamy-fleshed potatoes are delicious as a mezze. This is my current favorite, scented with cumin and punctuated with salty black olives. It’s good, too, without olives, but with a handful of crisp fat green beans added to the plate.

1 pound tiny creamer potatoes
Salt, as needed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Generous sprinkling of each, cumin and paprika
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
15 to 20 oil-cured black Mediterranean olives
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover; add 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (timing depends on the size and age of the potatoes).

Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan and shake in the dry pan for a few minutes, until thoroughly dry.

Cut the potatoes into thick slices, several per potato, or into quarters. Place in a bowl and toss with the cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic and olives. Dress with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

By Marlena Spieler, special to the San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 2000

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