Dining Features

Simple Art of Cooking: Local Sea Salt

Now even sea salt is local! I met Natalie Judelson at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market during my book signing there. She and her husband Steven are the founders and proprietors of the Amagansett Sea Salt Co. in Amagansett. Many recipes call for sea salt in cooking and I do use it, but sparingly in recipes, and only as a finishing salt. I prefer to use Diamond Crystal kosher salt to season dishes while cooking and only use minimal amounts of pouring salt for baking when called for.

As a society we are told to reduce our salt intake. My argument for that is not to indulge in prepared or frequent take-out foods. Salt is a flavor carrier and when salting dishes for home cooking one is in complete control. For an extra jolt of flavor, quality sea salt is worth the few grains as a finishing salt. Unrefined sea salt retains the nutritious trace minerals naturally occurring in seawater.

Amagansett Sea Salt is an artisanal salt, made entirely by hand in small batches from seawater harvested directly from the Atlantic Ocean. It is then filtered, solar evaporated and packaged. Their process is entirely natural and by carefully balancing solar evaporation and exposure to the wind, the salt forms slowly over time into crystals. I personally find their crystals to have just a light crunch with a mild, sweet flavor. Amagansett Sea Salt Co. offers a variety of salts, including plain, and blends such as Montauk Blend with lemon zest and East Hampton Blend with herbs de Provence. Southampton Blend is made with Madagascar vanilla for a savory and sweet finish. The salts are available at local farmers markets including, Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Montauk.


I first tasted these crusty golden brown potatoes flavored with lemon, olive oil and sweet roasted garlic in a Greek restaurant in Hollywood, Florida. The taste was so memorable I couldn’t wait to duplicate the dish at home. 

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes, unpeeled
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Grated lemon rind from 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
4 to 5 whole cloves garlic in their skin
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sea salt to finish

Preheat oven to 425° F.

1. Scrub potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half into wedges about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.

2. Place potatoes wedges in a bowl. Pour olive oil over; add remaining ingredients, except sea salt, and toss to coat. Arrange potatoes one layer deep on a Silpat, or parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour over seasoned juices in the bowl. Bake uncovered on middle rack of oven for about 20 minutes on each side. Potatoes should emerge crisp and golden brown on the outside and tender within. Squeeze pulp from the garlic cloves over the potatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Note: Russet potatoes are currently available at your local farm stands and farmers markets. The ones I picked up at the Green Thumb in Water Mill were just freshly dug with the earth still clinging.


A tian is the Provencal name for an earthenware dish used for baking vegetables. Today the name has come to mean the preparation of the dish itself.

Serves 6

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leek, well washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 to 2 zucchini, about 3/4 pound, trimmed, scrubbed and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 ripe medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
Scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to finish

Preheat oven to 400° F.

1. In a large skillet warm 2 tablespoons oil and sauté leek and garlic for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper and transfer to a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. Place sliced potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander.

3. Meanwhile place a layer of sliced zucchini over the sautéed leeks and season with a light sprinkle of salt, pepper to taste and thyme leaves. Overlap slices of par-boiled potatoes and season with salt, pepper and chives. Top with a layer of tomatoes, overlapping as necessary to fill any gaps, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

4. Bake covered with a tent of foil, shiny side down, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Vegetables should be tender and juicy. The dish can be completely made ahead to this point and then returned to the oven to warm through before serving. Or it can be served at room temperature with a light sprinkle of sea salt from on high.

For more recipes, cooking news and Silvia’s blog, visit her website at www.Savoringthehamptons.com.

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