Spuds With Pizazz!
The common or garden boiled potato has slid out of fashion in recent years for various reasons. One contributing factor is the ever increasing number of very more-ish potato styled snacks making boiled spuds seem flavourless and boring. Of course another problem has been all the fad diets over the last generation or two, often convincing us that potatoes are full of calories, or belong to the dreaded 'carb' family and should be avoided at all costs.
Steamed or boiled potatoes are in fact nutritious, delicious and worth their weight in gold especially if you have a growing family to feed.
Minty Spuds: Gently scrub new potatoes. Much of the nutrients in a potato are stored under the skin, so peeling should only be done if absolutely necessary. Steam or boil small new potatoes until just cooked. Add a leaf or two of fresh mint from the garden just before the end of cooking time, or use a sprig of mint to garnish. Drain and toss potatoes in a little butter ( or low-fat equivalent ) and serve hot.
Potato Salad: Steam or boil diced potatoes until just cooked. Drain well and leave to cool. When completely cold, stir in a preferred dressing: Half mayonnaise and half natural yoghurt works well. Taste the dressing until it’s just right, adding a little of this and that as you go. A finely chopped spring onion or shallot adds extra flavour to the salad. If available, stir in a handful of broken walnuts.
Mediterranean Spuds: Steam or boil potatoes until just cooked and drain well. While potatoes are cooking, slice a sweet pepper into strips or cut into chunks. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy based pan and gently cook the pepper with a chopped onion, a sliced courgette if you have one, and any other vegetable that may be lurking in the fridge. Add chopped cooked potatoes and stir well, frying over a low heat until vegetables are cooked. Stir in the juice of half a lemon, cook for a further minute then serve immediately.
Garlic Potatoes: Cut potatoes into fairly thin slices and steam or boil quickly. Don’t let them get too soft. Drain well and leave to cool slightly. Pre-heat oven to Gas mark 5 (375F, 190C). Chop or crush a few cloves of garlic, according to taste. Using a slotted spoon or fish slice, put a layer of potato into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over a little garlic and some chopped parsley. Add another layer of potato and repeat. Pour milk over the whole dish to about half way. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until hot right through. Optional extra: Top with grated cheese and grill for a few minutes until cheese has melted.
Mash: If potatoes are slightly over-cooked they can be mashed and served as a topping to shepherd’s pie type dishes or mixed with cooked bacon pieces and heated through in the oven. NB: Always make sure meat is thoroughly re-heated until piping hot before serving.
Potatoes are a nutritious family vegetable and these are just a few ideas to tempt the taste buds. Always buy good quality potatoes and if it’s at all possible, grow your own. Potato barrels and tubs are available from good garden suppliers. They take up little space in the garden and require very little time or maintenance to produce a good crop of organic home-grown potatoes every year.