Being a Newfoundlander of Irish decent, it should come as no surprise that a main staple in my house is the potato. If you’ve been reading all semester, you will have recognized an ongoing theme—food that you can customize is always better than any other food. Well, the same applies to potatoes.
Now, I will say that growing up I was limited to the three types mentioned in the title—boiled, mashed, and in something. However, since moving out on my own and longing for something a little more flavorful, I started experimenting with what you can do with a potato to add to the meal.
There are a few reasons why people might be reluctant to cook with potatoes. The first being the health reasons. In recent years, folks have been really hard on the poor potato, placing at a relatively high level on the Glycemic Index (GI). The GI is a measurement of how much of the sugars are converted into glucose in the body, so it’s no wonder that people aiming to cut out foods would cut out potato.
However, even on that level, it is still better to eat a complex carb like a potato, rather than a simple carb like crackers, as the potato will satisfy the body’s need for sugars for a longer period of time with added nutritional benefits. Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (especially when cooked with the skin), can have a positive effect on blood pressure, and are also a good source of fibre, to name only a few benefits. My personal opinion is that anything is okay in appropriate amounts. No, I won’t have a plate of potato every night for supper, but as a side to a meal 2-3 times a week; it isn’t going to hurt you.
Another is the fact that in order to buy potatoes, you generally have to buy an entire five or 10 pound bag. And if you’re a student cooking for one or two people, then most of that bag is going to go bad before you get the chance to eat them. A solution I recently found to this was buying bags of “roasting” potatoes. Basically, mini potatoes. You can sometimes buy them loose but you can purchase them in two pound bags. It’s proven to be a much more efficient way to purchase potatoes, as they rarely go bad. They are also a great way to control portions, as the mini-ness of them allows you to cook only what you want rather than having to cook an entire potato only to eat half of it. They also cook faster!
One of my favorite ways to cook potatoes is to roast them. Believe it or not, it hadn’t occurred to me to roast potatoes until going to a fancy Christmas party with my boyfriend’s company last year. Since then, it’s been the only way I make potatoes and change it up by using difference spies (I’ve listed my favorite recipe below). This is where my favorite theme comes back, as you can really change up the flavours based on the spices you use. Looking for something spicy? Add chili pepper. Want something sweeter? Add basil. Again, I would suggest looking up the flavours of different spices. But overall, there is a spice for everyone. The only recommendation I would make is to use olive oil over canola oil when roasting them. It adds a much nicer flavour to the final product.
So as a comfort food, a good side option, and a source of vitamins, the potato holds up. They’re a great side dish that’s easy to please guests or family, and are also easy to cook for one. In moderation, they are a great way to compliment any meal. Plus they taste awesome!
Extra Awesome Roasted Potatoes
Diced Potatoes (My favorite is yellow-flesh!)
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Dice your potatoes into small wedges. This will make them easier to cook.
- Add the olive oil and toss the potatoes in a large bowl. There should be enough olive oil to lightly coat the potatoes.
- Add in the oregano, basil, and parmesan and toss the potatoes again. You don’t need a lot––just enough that the wedges are speckled with the spices and parmesan.
- Bake on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They should come out crispy and the skin on the potatoes should have darkened significantly.