Potatoes, native to the Andean mountains of South America, have become a staple vegetable worldwide.  Potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrades and minerals such as potassium (if the skin is consumed), as well as vegetable protein.  Eaten alongside meat, dairy, or grains, they form a complete protein.  Potatoes store very well, and are thus frequently a staple in winter months.




Baby potatoes should be refrigerated if not used within 2-3 days, and should then be used within 1-2 weeks.  Most varieties of potatoes keep at room temperature (and away from light) for up to 2 weeks.  For longer term storage, potatoes keep best at 45-50°F, in high humidity, and in darkness.


General Tips 

Remove any lingering dirt by scrubbing potatoes with a vegetable brush under running water.  Organic potatoes do not need to be peeled.  Many nutrients are in or near the potato skin.  However, do trim off any green spots, eyes, or damaged areas.

To boil potatoes: Boil average sized potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes or until tender.  If the potatoes are to be used in a cold salad, stop cooking while potato remains firm.  Water can be saved to use in a soup stock.

Potatoes can also be steamed over an inch of water for 10-20 minutes or until tender.

Potato chunks can be added to soups, stews, or chowders 20-30 minutes before the dish is finished.

Grill potatoes by brushing potato wedges with oil, adding spices, and grilling for 5 minutes per side or until tender.

Patatas Bravas (Piquant Potatoes)

A selection of tapas dishes could be said to be incomplete without a dish of patatas bravas!  It is always a favorite, and although recipes vary, all are hot in flavor. Serves 6 as part of a tapas meal.

Olive oil, for pan-frying

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup white wine or dry Spanish sherry

14 oz / 400g canned chopped tomatoes

2 tsp white or red wine vinegar

1-2 tsp crushed dried chiles

2 tsp hot or sweet smoked Spanish paprika

2 lb 4 oz / 1 kg old potatoes


To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, then add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened but not browned.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, vinegar, chiles, and paprika, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until a thick sauce forms.

When the sauce is cooked, used a hand-held blender to blend until smooth.  Alternatively, transfer the sauce to a food processor and process until smooth.  Return the sauce to the pan and set aside.

Do not peel the potatoes, but cut them into chunky pieces.  Heat enough oil in a large skillet to come about 1 inch / 2.5 cm up the side of the skillet.  Add the potato pieces and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, then sprinkle with salt.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the sauce.  Transfer the potatoes to a warmed serving dish and drizzle over the sauce.  Serve hot, with wooden toothpicks to spear the potatoes.

(Recipe from Tapas: A Culinary Journey of Discovery by Susanna Tee.)


Tortilla Española

This classic Spanish dish can be served for breakfast, cut in cubes for tapas, or as a summer lunch with a bowl of gazpacho or as a sandwich. A quick note: Add the potato mixture while it's hot enough to start cooking the eggs but not so hot as to soufflé them. Serves 4-8.

3⁄4 cup Spanish olive oil

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced

1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

6 eggs

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 10” sauté pan. Add potatoes and onions and cook, lifting and turning, until potatoes are soft but not brown, about 20 minutes.

Beat eggs in a large bowl until pale yellow. Transfer sautéed potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to beaten eggs. Reserve oil.

Heat 1 tbsp. reserved oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add egg and potato mixture, spreading potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook uncovered until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Gently shake pan so tortilla doesn't stick, then slide a spatula along edges and underneath tortilla. Place a large plate over pan and quickly turn plate and pan over so tortilla falls onto plate. Add 1 tsp. reserved oil to pan, slide tortilla back in (uncooked side down), carefully tuck in sides with a fork, and continue cooking over medium heat until eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.

(Recipe from Saveur.)


Herb-Roasted Red Potatoes

1 pound red potatoes, cut in ½-inch pieces

1-4 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herb: chopped parsley, rosemary, thyme, fennel, dill, etc.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350°F.  Coat potatoes with other ingredients and spread out on a shallow baking dish.  Roast until tender, 40-45 minutes. Makes 2-4 servings.

(Recipe by Patricia Schindler, in From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (Third Edition).)


Kale and Potato Gratin

Makes 6-8 servings

1 ½ pounds thin-skinned boiling potatoes such as red potatoes

1 bunch kale

¼ cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Between 1/3 and 2/3 cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional) or 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as thyme or sage

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Get a pot of water boiling large enough to accommodate the potatoes. Also prepare an ice bath.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes 1/4-inch-thick. Set aside. Remove and discard the spines from the kale then chop the remaining leaves in ½-inch-thick ribbons by stacking the leaves and slicing in the direction of the veins. This doesn't need to be exact, as long as you end up with a pile of roughly ½-inch-thick shreds of kale.

When the water is boiling, add a dash of salt and gently drop in the potatoes, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes, until tender, but not cooked through. Drain and plunge into the ice bath. Drain again and dump onto a dish towel and blot.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the kale and rub the olive oil mixture aggressively into the leaves. Layer the kale and potatoes alternately with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and Parmesan in a 9”x12” rectangular casserole or glass or ceramic baking dish.

(Vegan adaptation: If you want to leave out the Parmesan, double the bread crumbs to 2/3 cup. Rub the extra olive oil and the minced herbs into the breadcrumbs with your fingers until they are the texture of wet sand. Proceed as directed above, layering the bread crumbs between the potatoes and kale.)

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until top is crispy.

(Original recipe here.)


Hash browns

Fry shredded or thinly sliced potatoes in butter or oil over low heat, covered, for 10 minutes or until tender.  Increase heat and remove cover, and flip potatoes, cooking until brown and crispy.  Salt to taste.