If you were stranded on a deserted island and could take only one vegetable with you, what would you take?
Ask Paula that same question and you get a quick answer: Potatoes! That’s right, Paula’s favorite vegetable in the whole world is the potato! When you think about it, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. It’s almost impossible to come up with a vegetable more comforting and versatile than the potato. We’re betting that every Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving table someone is enjoying potatoes in one form or another. It’s hard to picture a Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and Giblet Gravy!
Similar to tomatoes, when potatoes were first brought to Europe people believed them to be poisonous because they were part of the misunderstood nightshade family. Of course, today we know that potatoes are not only delicious; they are also healthy and contain high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium and fiber.
When selecting potatoes, make sure they are firm, relatively smooth and don’t have too many soft or dark spots. It’s also a good idea to avoid any potatoes that have started to sprout or look a little green. Although many grocery stores offer potatoes in bulk, it’s a good idea to buy them individually so you can inspect each one.
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, dry and well-ventilated place (approximately 45ºF- 50ºF). They should not be stored in the refrigerator because their high starch content will begin to turn to sugar. Do not expose potatoes to direct sunlight which will turn them green and make them bitter. And, be sure to check your potatoes regularly, removing any that have spoiled or sprouted as they will affect the rest of the bunch. When potatoes have been stored correctly, you can expect them to last up to two months!
1 pound potatoes = 4 cups diced =1 ¾ cups mashed
Parsnips (for stews, soups and are also delicious mashed)
Cassava, Yucca or Jicama (for mashing or baking)
Rutabaga, Cauliflower or Jerusalem Artichoke (for mashing)
Sweet Potatoes (for browning faster)
Most Common Varieties:
Russet: Potatoes with a high starch content, like russets, bake well, yield light and fluffy mashed potatoes and are good added to soups and stews.
Reds: Potatoes with low starch content, like red-skinned potatoes, hold their shape after cooking, and are great for making potato salads and scalloped potatoes. New Potatoes are immature potatoes harvested during the spring and summer. As in New Red Potatoes, they are not a separate variety, but just a younger version.
Fingerlings: Fingerling potatoes have a woodsy complex flavor. They are often used in dishes that showcase their small size and quick cooking times. They are usually eaten whole, skin and all, as the skin is very thin and tender. Fingerlings are great roasted or broiled and are perfect for potato salads.
Purple Peruvians: Purple potatoes offer a bold flavor when added to a dish. Purples are excellent for making colorful potato salad and can be deep fried to make beautiful lavender colored chips. For added flavor and texture, add purples to soups and stews.
The potato really is one of the most delicious, comforting and versatile foods you can eat. So now let us ask you that same question again…If you were stranded on a deserted island and could take only one vegetable with you, what would you take?