In this installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce, learn simple tips for highlighting potatoes in fresh, well-spiced meals!
By Tom Havran
Based on genetic testing of the potato, humans have spent as much as 10,000 years cultivating and perfecting this irreplaceable vegetable staple. Throughout this history, the starchy, waxy tubers have offered real stick-to-the-ribs nourishment and are the perfect compliment to virtually any meal, from entrée to sandwich to salad. Potatoes come in five basic varieties:
- Russets: Starchy, dry-fleshed, oval-shaped classic baking potatoes with russeted skin.
- Whites: Versatile potatoes which have crisp, snow white flesh and usually offer a balance of starchiness and waxiness.
- Reds: Red-skinned, often round potatoes with firm, waxy flesh that lends itself to boiled potatoes and potato salad.
- Yellows: Yellow-fleshed (due to the presence of betacarotene), creamy-textured, versatile potatoes with a balance of starch and wax.
- Purples/Blues: Crisp-fleshed potatoes that are usually starchy when cooked. The purple color (resulting from the antioxidant anthocyanin) holds better if these potatoes are boiled or baked with their skins left on.
How to prepare it: Choose starchy or versatile varieties for mashed and baked potatoes, chips and fries. Choose waxy or versatile potatoes for boiled potatoes and cold potato salad. The skins add texture, flavor, fiber and nutrients but whether you peel them or not depends on the dish and your personal preference. You should definitely leave the delicate skin on new potatoes. It may be wise to peel non-organic potatoes which are heavily sprayed and treated with an anti-sprouting chemical. Generally, simply washing and scrubbing organic potatoes should be sufficient, but consider peeling green, sprouted and blemished potatoes which can have elevated levels of the potentially toxic solanin alkaloid.
Spices and herbs to complement: The neutral flavor of potatoes will accept virtually any savory herb and spice seasoning from plain old sea salt and pepper to parsley, dill, garlic and more. Try adorning your mashed or boiled potatoes with a vibrantly green “gravy” made from fresh parsley or basil pesto to which you can add herbs like chives or rosemary.
Pairs well with: Almost every kind of meat, vegetable and cheese you can imagine. Dress with gravies, sauces, sour cream, yogurt, butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
5 Tips for enjoying potatoes:
- Try boiling potatoes in their skins and peeling them afterwards. Doing so will preserve more flavor and nutrients while producing a creamier, less watered-down texture.
- Don’t miss the brief, summertime new potato season! Fresh, newly dug potatoes are sweeter, more delicate and creamier than winter potatoes which have been cold-conditioned for storage.
- Leftover potatoes don’t reheat well as they become rubbery and grainy. Try them in a new cooking application such as fried potatoes or potato pancakes.
- Save the cooking water from peeled, boiled potatoes to bake richer-flavored bread and smoother handmade pasta.
- Add potatoes to cold, salted water for more even cooking.
Recipes to try:
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.