This week I am honored to focus on the humble spud, also known as the potato, the totally tempting tuber that once fascinated British naturalist Charles Darwin during an expedition to South America. Turns out potatoes can produce nutritious food faster than any other food crop, using less land and in just about any environment!
Potatoes were first cultivated about 7, 000 years ago in South America, where their early reputation was neither humble nor happy. The Spanish first encountered them in Peru and took them back to Europe where they were regarded with tremendous suspicion, trepidation and fear. The poor potato was considered unfit for human consumption and only suitable as animal fodder or food for starving people. Eventually, the “upper class” in Europe recognized the potato’s true potential, and slowly but surely, the humble spud gained its rightful popularity.
Potatoes are amazing in plenty of dishes, whether roasted, grated, sliced or diced, steamed, fried, smashed or mashed, you can be sure potatoes are delicious, versatile, filling and satisfying. But with all the varieties available, how do you know which to choose? Remember, the more starch, the fuller and fluffier the texture. The less starch, the more they hold their shape, making them perfect for stews, soups and salads. Here’s a general guide:
Baking: Russets and Yukon Gold
Frying: Russets and Yukon Gold
Roasting: fingerlings, heirlooms, red potatoes, Yukon Gold
Salads: Red, purple and white potatoes, waxy varieties and fingerlings
Mashing: Russets, Yukon Gold, red potatoes
Steaming: Red and white varieties, and Yukon Gold
And here are plenty of ideas:
- Thicken soups with peeled russet potatoes instead of flour or cornstarch.
- Soups and stews love potatoes, but chowder simply demands them! Try this Cod Chowder or this Cheddar, Corn and Potato Chowder and you will demand a second helping!
- Cook extra potatoes for dinner; the next morning, grate or dice and make hash browns.
- Potato courts curry! Here’s an idea for Spicy Beef and Potato Curry.
- Mash potatoes with their skin - add a little butter, sour cream or cheese. You will love this recipe for Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and this recipe for Irish Cheddar Potato Bites.
- Would you ever have thought to pair potatoes with tahini? We did in this recipe for Tahini-Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
- Stuffed Potato Skins with Roasted Chicken, Onions and Sour Cream! Need I say more??
- Potato salad is not just for summer. You can enjoy a warm potato salad made with freshly steamed potato chunks, chopped favorite veggies and a tossing of vinaigrette, or you can enjoy any one of our many delicious and elegant potato salads featured this post.
- Add potatoes to casseroles and roasted root vegetables. Here’s an idea for Baked Mashed Potato Casserole.
- Love French fries? We’ve got a kid-friendly recipe for Baked Potato Fries.
- Bake a potato and mash with a little mayonnaise and a dash of pepper and parmesan cheese.
- Make potato pancakes or latkes. Here’s a recipe for Zucchini Potato Latkes and another for Simple Potato Pancakes.
- Roast potatoes like they do in Greece, with olive oil and lemon.
- Purple potatoes are pure pleasure. Roast and stuff with caramelized onions, sautéed peppers and feta cheese.
- Last but not least, don’t forget the Scalloped Potatoes!
Got a passion for a good potato? What’s your favorite recipe? Let me know!