Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day: Potatoes!

Sure, we're doing corned beef in Guinness today just like everyone else (and a Guinness cake for dessert!), but let's take a moment to honor the Irish for their humblest contribution to world cuisine: the delicious potato. For some reason, Americans have recently decided that potatoes are bad for you. What a bag of hooey! Potatoes are among the most nutrient-dense foods out there, loaded with fiber to lower your cholesterol and keep you feeling full, rich in potassium, iron, copper, and heart-healthy vitamins.

In my opinion, the most healthful and delicious way to prepare potatoes is by roasting, especially if you roast them along with other root vegetables and tubers. We often have a side dish made with roasted potatoes, sunchokes, turnips, kohlrabi, carrots, celeriac, or any combination of the above. If you're ever confronted with an unfamiliar root veggie or tuber, throw it in with some diced potatoes and roast it up. And, for reasons I will explain in a minute, make double the amount that you need.

Here's our dinner from Sunday night: Steak filets cooked in a Jameson whiskey sauce with mushrooms, chard salad on the side, and there at the back is our roasted potatoes and sunchokes. The basic recipe for the roast veg follows.


You can use all potatoes for this, or make it more interesting by subbing in any combination of the roots and tubers I mentioned above. (Yes, I know kohlrabi is neither root nor tuber, but honestly I don't know what category it goes in, and from a culinary standpoint I treat it just like a turnip whenever I use it raw or cooked.) I especially recommend sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes; if you use them, remember DO NOT peel them. Ever. The skins are tasty and all the nutrients are directly under the skins, so just scrub them thoroughly with a brush and leave those skins on!

5 cups diced tubers and roots
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh minced rosemary, or 1 Tbsp dried
1/2 Tbsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F (225 C). Chop up your veg and spread them out in a casserole dish. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour it all over the veggies, then use your hands to toss it all together so it's evenly distributed. Slide that dish in the oven and roast for half an hour; stir it all up, then roast for another half hour until those veggies are nicely browned and cooked through.

"Oh, but Kimberly," you say, "That's way more than the two or three of us will eat in one meal."

That's right. You made extra roasted potatoes so you can use them again! Now you can put together a quicker meal with roasted-potato deliciousness and you won't have to wait an hour while they cook. They're very good tossed into soup (lentil soup is our go-to quickie dinner around here), or you can even toss them with a little pesto sauce and have them with fish, which cooks up in under ten minutes.

Or, you can make a nice frittata in the morning.

Do not underestimate potato frittata. It's so versatile - you can add sausage or bacon to it if you're so inclined, or whatever veggies you have on hand. The eggs give you a big protein wallop to start the day, and the potatoes will keep you feeling full well into lunch time. When I make frittata, I usually have it for breakfast and again for lunch, as it tastes absolutely delicious cold or at room temperature and goes so nicely with salad. This is a great one to take to work with you.


1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 leek, sliced -OR- 1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups leftover roasted potatoes (and other tubers if applicable)
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup baby spinach
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 F (225 C).

In a heavy, oven-safe skillet, melt the butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Throw in the onion or leek, saute until it softens, then add in the garlic and potatoes. Continue sauteeing until the garlic starts to turn golden, stir in the grated carrots, and keep going until they soften up a bit.

While the veggies are cooking, crack all the eggs into a bowl. Add the milk, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper; beat it with a whisk or fork until it's an even mixture. Set aside and stir the cooking veggies. When the carrots are soft, stir in the spinach and cook another minute or two until the spinach wilts, and then spread everything out evenly in the skillet. Pour in the egg mixture and tilt the skillet around to make sure the egg is evenly distributed. If you're using cheese, sprinkle that on top.

Stick the skillet into the oven and bake it for about 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs have set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into pie wedges and serve.

Happy St. Pat's, don't drink TOO much beer, and make sure you wear a little green today!

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