The power of the potato

You can end up taking some everyday ingredients for granted and the potato is one of those, I think. It is always to hand providing the backbone to many dishes and it’s a go to ingredient for me each week in my cooking.

The best way to cook spuds became a hot potato with friends recently as we shared each of our favourite ways to enjoy them. I went roast (so good when done properly, get out the goose fat), chips and jacket potato. For me, a mashed potato is ok but I rarely make it or choose it on a menu. This was controversial as for my friend Tom it would be his desert island potato as it is so versatile. Who knew there was such a strength of opinion about potatoes!

Maybe it is because we have all have enjoyed great potato dishes, whether that’s something on holiday through to a comforting roast dinner. There is so much from the French tartiflette made with potatoes, cheese, lardons and onions, the decadent dauphinoise to pan-fried parmentier potatoes with lashings of butter.

In my mind, you can’t go wrong with new potatoes boiled, drained and tossed in butter with chopped fresh herbs. A German potato salad strongly features in my childhood memories as my Nan always made it for any buffet we had. There were also potato waffles for the occasional tea time, a convenient option for my Mum to feed us  – waffly versatile.

I was recently listening to an edition of Radio 4’s Food programme and they mentioned how the sales of spuds have been impacted by the popularity of carb cutting diets. I can’t imagine not having the choice of potato in my recipe repertoire. No chips with your fish from the local takeaway, no waft of vinegar to tempt your tastebuds before stealing a few hot chips from the bag before they make it to a plate. I don’t think I will be ever giving up carbs!

There is so much you can add to potatoes – garlic, lemon or fresh herbs will all elevate the simplest dish. Try chives, rosemary, thyme or parsley.

Leaving the skin on is my preference when roasting potatoes, there is something about the crispiness and it is good for you. According to research, eating potatoes with the skin left on can help heart health as it is high in potassium.

Don’t forget to make the most of your leftovers, roast potatoes can become bubble and squeak or mash can be transformed into potato cakes.

In a recent edition of the Guardian magazine, Ottolenghi shared some more adventurous recipes to cook with potatoes, my cheat’s version of  one of the recipes is below.

With all this potato chat, can you choose a favourite?

Roast new potatoes with spring onions, mint and lemon

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side)

200g new potatoes, chopped in half
6 spring onions, trimmed
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon rapeseed  oil
50g frozen peas
A handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
⅓ fresh chilli, finely chopped

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Par-boil the new potatoes.

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Add the potatoes, garlic (with skin on) and spring onions to a baking tray. Drizzle over the oil and season.

Roast for 20 minutes, add the peas for the final 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, tossed together with the lemon zest, chilli and mint. Add a drizzle of oil, if you wish.

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**You can find more recipes on the Love Potatoes website. I love their strap line ‘more than a bit on the side’!