Lately I find that much of my cooking inspiration comes from going out to restaurants with few vegan options and being forced by hunger to order something I wouldn’t ordinarily eat. Last Saturday, after a long day of marching and standing at the Women’s March on Jackson, I wound up with some friends at one of the few places in town that is open at 3pm on a Saturday.
A glance at The Manship’s menu told me that they served no vegetarian entrees, much less vegan, but a very helpful waitress showed me the side dishes I could have as a vegetable plate. One of them was Spanish Potatoes, and it turned out to be one of the best potato dishes I’ve ever had. Crunchy and spicy on the outside, creamy and soft on the inside, each little morsel was a delight.
But. You knew there was a “but,” didn’t you? They were fried. Now, please don’t look at me like that. I’ve never claimed to be perfect, and sometimes, when I’m very hungry and there are no other options, I have tasted fried food. And in my defense, the waitress didn’t mention they were fried, and they weren’t very oily. But I could tell from the texture that these potatoes were fried, not baked.
Of course, I immediately started plotting how to get the same crunchy-outside/creamy-inside without using oil, and I realized right away that this is a job for my new toy, the air fryer. The air fryer works by surrounding the food with circulating hot air, and it allows food–especially potatoes–to get crunchy on all sides a little better than an oven will.
I knew that the secret to the soft interior was to cook the potatoes first, coat them in seasonings, and then air fry them, so I popped them into my Instant Pot to cook. And it worked! My fat-free Spanish potatoes came out delicious, probably as close as possible to the original without oil. The only complaint my husband had was that they were not spicy enough, so be sure to add more hot pepper to the recipe below if you like spicy.
No Special Equipment Needed
Don’t worry if you don’t have an air fryer or an Instant Pot. I’ve included instructions for making the potatoes using a regular pot on the stove and a baking sheet in the oven. If you try it without “special equipment,” please leave me a comment to let me know how they came out.
Crispy Fat-Free Spanish Potatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt optional
- 1 tablespoon aquafaba or water (liquid from cooked chickpeas)
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1/2 tablespoon brown rice flour or flour of your choice
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika or 3/4 tsp. sweet smoked paprika plus 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Wash the potatoes well. Cut the small ones in half, medium ones in quarters, and large ones into sixths. Potatoes should be about 1 1/2-inch at widest point.
- Boil the potatoes until just soft using one of the following methods. Using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker: Place the potatoes in the pot with 1 cup water. Add one teaspoon salt, if desired. Seal and set to cook on high pressure for 4 minutes (use manual setting on Instant Pot). Quick release the pressure after 4 minutes at high pressure. On the stove: Place potatoes and optional salt in a saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just tender, about 10-20 minutes.
- Drain potatoes well and put them in a large bowl.
- Combine the aquafaba and tomato paste in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix the flour with the remaining ingredients.
- Add the tomato paste mixture to the potatoes, using a silicone spatula or spoon to gently coat all the potatoes. Sprinkle the dry seasonings on the potatoes, stirring gently with the spatula until all are coated.
"Frying" the Potatoes
- In an air fryer: Set the air fryer to 360F and preheat for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes to the basket and set the timer for 12 minutes. Shake the basket every 6 minutes, using a spatula to loosen any potatoes that have stuck to the bottom. Potatoes are done when they are crispy but not rock-hard. Air-Fryers vary, so they may take from 12-20 minutes. Add additional time as necessary.
- In the oven: Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the potatoes and bake for another 10 minutes. Check for crispiness and add additional time as needed. Potatoes are done when they are crispy on the outside and tender inside.
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I hope you enjoy!