Ode to Potatoes

Have you noticed that most people don't consider the humble potato to be a vegetable?

Have you noticed that most people don't consider the humble potato to be healthy?

Have you noticed that most people are so very often wrong?

Potatoes are loaded with nutrients and low in calories.

They have vitamins C and B6, potassium, copper, manganese and dietary
fiber.  Potatoes 
offer cardiovascular protection, have a potential for lowering
blood pressure and have a variety of phytonutrients with antioxidant
activity. 

Unfortunately the things we do to the poor spud can bury all of the benefits in mounds of fat and calories.

All values are for a medium potato, (about the size of a woman's fist)  5oz (150gr) after cooking:

Baked, including skin: 140 calories and 32 carbs.

Braised in stock, including skin: 140 calories and 32 carbs.

Fried potato, in 2 tsp olive oil: 180 calories and 32 carbs

And then we start to get serious….

Baked, including skin with 2 tbs sour cream, 1 tbs butter: 288 calories and 34 carbs.

Baked, topped with Cheese Sauce and Bacon: 375 calories and 35 carbs.

French Fries, in vegetable oil: 478 calories and 57 carbs.

Now you know: potatoes, when fixed properly, can be a part of a healthy diet.I grew up with plain, boiled, Idaho potatoes on the table every day. 

Eventaully I learned that there was more than 1 kind of potato.

I moved to Ireland  – the Irish know their potatoes. 

The first time I made a beef stew, the potatoes disappeared. 

I have no idea what kind of potatoes they were, I hadn't paid any attention.  They were just potatoes, after all.  But they had completely disintegrated in the stew.  The stew was lovely and thick and very, very good, but without any chunks of potato.

Then, in France, I was introduced to new potatoes – those lovely  golf ball size nuggets that appear each spring. 

Oh sure, I'd had small potatoes before: they came in plastic bags and who knew when they'd been harvested.

These are different.

They still had dirt around them.

Moist dirt.

Dare I say it?  I fell in love with the little guys.

Potatoes

They come in their very own box with all sorts of government stamps and certifications, along with the date they were harvested… In this case, it was the day before I bought them.

I can honestly say these are the best potatoes I have ever had.

Not just a little better, a whole bunch better. 

On a scale of 1 – 10, these are a 10 with all the other potatoes in the world barely getting past 4.

They may not look like much…. And I'd offer to share, but they're gone. 

Gone from my pantry; gone from the store until next year.

Potatoes_new_basil

How did I prepare them?  Mostly just tossed lightly with olive oil and roasted for about 25 minutes.

Here I tossed them with a bit of butter, some sea salt and fresh, snipped basil after I took them out of the oven.

I didn't want to mess with them.  Some things just need to be left to shine on their own.

To find new potatoes, real new potatoes you either have to grow them yourself, find a reliable farmer's market or live someplace where they are truly prized – like France.  I hear rumors that England is rather fond of them also….

13 thoughts on “Ode to Potatoes”

  1. Potatoes are Gods in vegetable form! I’m sure there’s a civilization somewhere that did worship them. I’m really envious of your new potatoes! Lovely post.

  2. Katie, those new potatoes looks wonderful! I like the minimal prep when an ingredient is so fresh and perfect. We have potatoes lots of ways around here, but rarely fried or French fried…too much oil for my taste. My favorite is red potatoes coated lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with a little garlic salt, shaken with fresh rosemary and roasted in a hot oven on a baking tray. Never tried the basil, but now I will.

  3. Such a lovely dish….it does not get any better than a really good potato, I just bought some the other day from a local organic farmer…we are having them tonight…can hardly wait! Ina

  4. Oh, I’m so glad to see someone else sing the praises of the potato – the most underappreciated, misunderstood vegetable around. Ifeel so lucky that they grow in my garden year-round.
    I love how you prepared these, Katie. Simple, with fresh herbs. It doesn’t get much better than this.

  5. I planted potatoes this year and am eagerly awaiting harvest! I’ll dress them simply like this and maybe even eat only potatoes in that first-ever homegrown meal.

  6. As long as potatoes are not slathered in sour cream they are healthy, although I love sour cream on my potatoes:D I picked up some new potatoes at the market on Saturday so here we come:D

  7. Those potatoes look fabulous, Katie.
    We usually get “Yukon Gold” potatoes. But the standard PEI “baking” potato is wonderful too. And there’s nothing so wonderful as those waxy red potatoes.
    My favourite way to have new red potatoes is boiled whole then drizzled with a little butter (sometimes olive oil – but let’s face it, I do love butter) and lots and lots of snipped chives. Parsley works too if there are no chives left.
    (Do you know if it is a myth that the vitamin C content in potatoes has been drastically reduced with all the modifications that have taken place to potatoes and soil content in the last 50 or so years? I seem to recall reading something about that in one of Michael Pollan’s books. And googling about this, I found that Thomas Pawlick (book: “The End of Food”) wrote that “supermarket potatoes in Canada no longer contain Vitamin A and the iron iron content has declined by 57% along with their Vitamin C”. source: greencalgary.org/ask-ashley/details/food-misconceptions-deconstructed/)

  8. Yum! I love the simplicity of potatoes, along with a your prep with olive oil. Delish! I don’t eat them a lot anymore, but when I do…joy! 😉

  9. Kirsten, I read somewhere that they are the only vegetable we can live on….
    Elle, I fry them in just a bit of oil and it works… slowly. Love them roasted, too…. with onions…
    Magic of Spice, those were the best potatoes, ever!
    Ina, there is such a difference between just dug and stored for yonks!
    Christine year round – you are lucky. Fresh all the time….wonderful!
    Zoomie, I’ve never tried growing them – I may next year!
    Val, mustard is good on a baked potato – maybe with a dab of sour cream…
    Elizabeth, please don’t tell me that my wonderful potatoes are not the perfect food. I’m going to trust the French to not muck about with food. Or I will remain blissfully ignorant. This is me, with eyes closed and ears covered.
    Chris, when you do eat them make it worthwhile ;-))

  10. Potatoes are DEFINITELY food of the gods – but the ones you get from the supermarket have been out of the earht for so long that they have lost any semblance of taste. In Jersey (the channel island, not the US state!), the arrival of new season Jersey Royals is awaited with breathless anticipation, and you get them a day or 2 out of the ground, like yours. Makes all the difference in the world!

  11. Jeanne, I’ve heard about the Jersey Royals…. For somethings you just have to be a local. I remember searching all over for Summer Pudding one July when we were in London – many years ago

  12. Potatoes are my favorite vegetable. I love them fried, mashed, souffled, baked…you name it! Your potatoes look so yummy it’s almost as if I could reach them right of my screen. ;-D

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