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Potatoes: The Eyes Have It

July 19, 2012 By:
Linda Morel
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WHAT'S COOKING?

People often think of potatoes as winter food, as the starchy side of a filling, warming meal. But like most people, potatoes have multi-fac­eted personalities. During the summer, they relax in laid-back recipes, adding a refreshing element to warm weather meals.

Potatoes can be served hot or cold. Nothing says summer better than potato salad, whether German-style, with its assertive mustard tang, or the creamy, comfort-food kind.

Even when served hot, potatoes can project a "lite" air in tune with picnics, barbecues, and back porch dining.

Just in time for summer, potatoes grown for the fresh market, meaning sold soon after harvesting, are at their peak in Pennsylvania from mid-July through late-September. Some of the varieties that grow well in Pennsylvania are Yukon Gold, red-skinned potatoes and russet (which make great baked potatoes and latkes).

You will notice a big difference in flavor once you try po­tatoes purchased shortly after harvesting. Ideally, the farmer has just dug them up from the ground and merely brushed off the dirt. Refrigerating them should be avoided, because fresh potatoes taste best when stored in a cool, dark, dry place.

Once you've delighted in local spuds, you'll be as disappointed in winter potatoes as you are with the lifeless tomatoes available after September fades away.

Zaatar Roasted Potatoes

(Pareve)

Zaatar is a spice mixture popular in Sephardic cooking. It can be found in Middle Eastern groceries, gourmet markets and supermarkets specializing in international foods.

nonstick vegetable spray 
2 Yukon Gold potatoes 
1 Tbsp. olive oil, or more, if needed 
1 tsp. Zaatar 
kosher salt to taste

Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick vegetable spray. Preheat oven to 350°.

Scrub the potatoes with a brush and pat dry with paper towels. Keep the skins on. With a sharp knife, cut into a coarse dice, about 10 pieces per po­tato, each piece 1-inch thick.

One potato at a time, place diced pieces into a clean plastic bag. Drizzle about half of the olive oil into the bag. Close the bag and shake it until the potato pieces are covered with a light slick of oil. Add more oil, if needed. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. of Zaatar, seal the bag, and shake again until the Zaatar evenly coats the potato pieces. Repeat with the second potato.

Place potatoes on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft in the center.

Turn potatoes every 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Nouvelle Potato Salad

(Dairy or Pareve)
4 Tbsps. chopped walnuts 
4 red-skinned potatoes 
4 Tbsps. red onion, chopped fine 
2 Tbsps. fresh dill, minced 
4 Tbsps. low-fat mayonnaise 
2 Tbsps. fat-free plain yogurt (preferably Greek) or for a pareve recipe, an additional 2 Tbsps. of mayonnaise 
2 tsps. red wine vinegar 
2 tsps. Dijon mustard 
1/3 cup raisins

In a preheated 350° oven, toast the walnuts on a baking pan covered with aluminum foil, until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Watch nuts continuously so they don't burn. Cool to room temperature.

Scrub potatoes clean with a brush and pat dry with paper towels. Cut each potato into about 8 approximately equal pieces. Do not peel them. Place potatoes in a pot of cold water, cover, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.

After 45 minutes, gently pierce a couple of potato chunks with a fork. They should be soft in the center. If not, boil a few minutes longer. Drain in a colander. Cool to room temperature.

Move the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently but well with a wood­en, plastic or silicone spoon in order to keep the lovely red skins on the potatoes. You can serve potato salad immediately but it tastes better the next day. Place in a covered container to refrigerate.

Serves 4.

German Potato Salad

(Pareve)
4 Yukon Gold potatoes 
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 
1 tsp. Dijon mustard 
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard 
1 tsp. sugar 
kosher salt to taste 
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Scrub potatoes clean with a brush and pat dry with paper towels. Cut each potato into about 8 or 9 approximately equal pieces. Do not peel them. Place potatoes in a pot of cold water, cover, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.

After 45 minutes, gently pierce a couple of potato chunks with a fork. They should be soft in the center. If not, boil a few minutes longer. Drain in a col­ander. Cool to room temperature.

Move potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently but well with a wooden, plastic or silicone spoon in order to keep the skins on the potatoes. You can serve potato salad immediately but it tastes better the next day. Place in a covered container to refrigerate.

Serves 6.

Leftover Baked Russet Potatoes

(Pareve)

When you've got leftover baked potatoes, this recipe turns the problem of what to do with them into a fabulous side dish. You'll wish you had more leftover po­tatoes.

2 large baked potatoes (leftover and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days) 
2 large onions 
4 Tbsps. olive oil, or more, if needed 
kosher salt to taste

Keeping the skin on, cut the potatoes horizontally into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Slice the onions as thinly as possible.

Using 2 large skillets on a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in each skillet. Add half of the potato and onion slices to each skillet. Sprinkle the contents of both skillets with salt.

Stir the contents and saute for 20 to 30 minutes, until potato and onion slices are crisp and brown but not burnt. If contents are browning too quickly, turn down the flame. You may have to add more oil.

About halfway through cooking, check to see if there's enough salt.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected].

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