I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them. –Nora Ephron
I have long felt that the potato is a friendly vegetable. Unassuming, dependable, its carbohydrate-packed goodness puts you at ease. It’s not fussy; in fact, the potato is equally happy in posh surroundings, dressed to the nines, as it is in a down-home diner, blanketed with country gravy.
The typical potato may endure any number of indignities, far more than most other vegetables: poked before baking, roasted until its skin blisters, suffocated with mayonnaise, cut with sharp implements, and in trendy culinary circles, “smashed,” all by people who simultaneously proclaim their love and affection.
But the potato is unwavering in its desire to please. You can subject potatoes to all varieties of manipulations and mistreatments and still be hard-pressed to find a dud of a spud.
Despite their rough-and-tumble appearance, potatoes require a dose of TLC to keep them comfortable before they rendezvous in the kitchen. Most importantly, remove them from their plastic bags as soon as you’re home from the market (plastic will make the potatoes mold quite quickly). Storing them with onions and garlic will also hasten mold production.
Finally, think about temperature: an overly warm area will cause softening, shriveling and sprouting within a few days. Before you skip to the ‘fridge, slow down. Cold storage produces a funny, sweet taste, the result of the potato starch converting to sugar. The best choice is a cool, dark, dry place, such as the back of a pantry.
Potato dishes are countless, but I’m offering just one to accompany this post: a recipe for roasted potato salad, made main dish-worthy thanks to the additions of asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, and pine nuts. Potato salad may not be revolutionary, but this version is remarkably delicious, satisfying, and loaded with powerfully good nutrition.
- 1 pound very small Yukon Gold or fingerling potatoes, halved crosswise
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- fine sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
- ¾ pound asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut crosswise into thirds
- 1-1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 cups prewashed baby spinach leaves
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 425F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with ½ tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Cook in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with ½ tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Remove pan from oven and add the asparagus to the pan, nestling pieces between potatoes. Return pan to oven and roast for 5 to 8 minutes longer until potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierce with a fork and asparagus pieces are tender. Cool on pan.
- In a small jar, combine the vinegar, mustard, syrup and remaining oil. Cover and shake vigorously to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a large serving bowl. combine the spinach, tomatoes, potatoes and asparagus. Add the dressing, tossing to coat. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.