Potatoes

As the weather cools, we all seem to drift to foods that stick to our ribs. Nothing quite fills this bill like potatoes. Farmers’ markets and groceries are full of earthy potatoes of all varieties from traditional russets to Yukon golds to Norland Reds to a multitude of purple, pink and yellow fingerlings.

We’ve been warned off of potatoes because of the calories and the misinformation that the starch is bad for us. Actually, potatoes are quite good nutritionally, with loads of vitamin C, potassium and fiber and few calories. It’s all the “stuff” we put on them that takes the calorie and fat count higher.

Yukon golds are buttery and tender; russets tend to be drier and hold up better to mashing. Fingerlings and reds are delicious when roasted with garlic and rosemary. Keep the skins on for extra flavor and nutrition.

Best of all, potatoes are adaptable to hundreds of recipes so it’s possible to have them every night of the week and not get tired of them. One of our go-to dinners is a baked potato and a big salad. You can load the potato with cooked lentils and feta, sliced tomatoes and avocado, chili, or just good old butter and pepper.

Potatoes are natural companions to cheese and butter, and they also make a luscious potato salad when dressed warm with a vinaigrette or when baked as potato skins topped with guacamole and salsa.

This recipe for scalloped potatoes is basic. Dress it up as you see fit. It adapts well to added sauteed kale or chard, mushrooms, roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. Experiment with different cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere or goat cheese. Add herbs and seasonings to taste – basil, marjoram, smoked paprika, Italian or Cajun seasoning.

Easy roasted potatoes

To serve two, scrub 1-2 pounds of fingerlings or red potatoes. Leave the skins on and slice or quarter depending on the size of the potatoes.

Toss the cut potatoes with 2-3 tablespoons of fruity olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the potatoes, cut side down, in one layer in a shallow baking pan. Lay three or four sprigs of fresh rosemary on top. Put on the lowest rack in a cold oven. Turn on the heat to 425 and roast until tender, usually about half an hour. No need to turn the potatoes over. Remove the rosemary and serve warm or at room temperature.

Scalloped potatoes

Scalloped potatoes with spinach

1 garlic clove, halved
6 medium peeled (or unpeeled) potatoes, cut into 1/8 inch slices
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 t. salt
pepper
1/2 c. shredded cheese
1 c. skim milk

Rub an 11 x 7 baking dish with cut sides of garlic, discard. Spray with cooking spray. Arrange half of the potatoes in a dish, drizzle with half butter, salt, pepper and cheese. Repeat for another layer. Bring milk to a boil and pour over potatoes. Bake uncovered at 425 for 40 minutes.

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