Surprisingly, China and India — major rice eating countries — produce almost one third of the world’s potatoes. Up until the 1990s, potatoes were considered to be a cook’s ‘best friend’ in Europe and North America. The acceptance of spuds not only in Asia but in Africa and Latin America means we can add interest to our meals with stir-fried and curried potatoes and more.
And a hectare of potatoes yields two to four times more food than a hectare of grains and they are up to seven times more efficient in utilising water. Great for the planet!
Although spuds contain 17 per cent carbohydrate per 100 grams (a boiled potato has just 85 kilocalories per 100 grams), they also contain a balanced source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, B-group vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, iron, magnesium and protein. They are almost fat-free — unless of course you top them with lashings of butter or sour cream.
But not all potatoes are created equal. Some varieties are best baked or roasted others are great for mashing and several are excellent in potato salads. Check the packaging for info on what potato is best for your recipe. And if you want about one-third less carbs in your spud, then check out the relatively new ‘lotato.’
POTATO & APPLE GRATIN
A lighter version of an old French classic.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3 medium (400g) baking potatoes
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
flaky sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium-low. Sauté the onion — stirring occasionally — until soft, about 12 minutes. Add the thyme.
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Core and thinly slice the apple. Lightly butter a 1 litre baking dish.
Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the baking dish. Top with 1/2 the apple slices and 1/2 the onion. Repeat the layers ending with a layer of potato.
Heat the cream, milk and salt together. Pour evenly over the potato mixture. Cover.
Place a baking tray in the oven to catch any drips. Place the baking dish on top. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the top is golden. Serves 6.
BABY BACON BITES
I love these served as nibbles or for adding interest to everyday meals. I used Piccolos Bite Size Medley as some of the spuds are purple through and through. Colours add interest.
12 baby potatoes
4 long rashers streaky bacon, cut into thirds
1 teaspoon each: flaky sea salt, oregano
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a roasting pan with baking paper.
Wrap each potato in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in the roasting pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Sprinkle with the salt, oregano and five-spice. Serves 4.
YUMMY SCORED SPUDS
Great served with grills or barbecue food.
2 large baking potatoes
25g butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon each: flaky sea salt, Mexican spice
1 cup shredded tasty cheese
2 small rashers bacon, chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped chives or coriander
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a roasting pan with baking paper.
Halve the potatoes lengthwise. With the point of a sharp knife, score the potatoes lengthwise at 1cm intervals. Turn the spud at right angles and score again — as you would for a ham. Brush well with the butter. Season.
Place in the roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with the cheese and bacon and continue baking until cooked and golden, about 10 minutes. Garnish with chives or coriander. Serves 4.