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Spotlight on spuds

Fresh ways to enjoy potato classics

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Family Features

Potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, but a few twists on classic side dishes such as mashed potatoes, salads and casseroles can take potatoes to a whole new level. With so many delicious types available year-round, it’s easy to create exciting and nutritious side dishes that can be the highlight of any meal.

A medium-size potato (5.3 ounces) with skin is 110 calories, has no fat, sodium or choles terol, provides 45 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C, and has more potassium than a banana.

Here’s what you need to know about the seven potato types to help you start experimenting with different colors, textures, cooking methods and flavor additions:

Fingerlings: These small, slender “finger-sized” potatoes range from 2 to 4 inches in length. They come in a wide range of skin and flesh colors and most possess a firm, waxy texture, which makes them ideal for potato salads. Pan-frying enhances their robust flavor and showcases their wonderful nutty or buttery tastes.

Petites: Petites share the same flavor and texture as their full-sized cousins, but their flavors are actually more concentrated, and they cook more quickly. Petites can be found in red, white, yellow, brown and purple, and make delicious roasted potatoes and potato salads.

Purples/Blues: Purple/blue potatoes have a deep purple skin with flesh that ranges from purple to almost white. The moist, firm flesh retains its shape and adds rich colors and a mild, yet distinctly nutty flavor to tossed salads. They are also sensational roasted.

Reds: Reds are widely known for their rosy red skin and white flesh. The moist, waxy flesh stays firm and flavorful through out cooking, making it ideal for roasting. The slightly sweet, always-tender texture comple ments any dish, and the vibrant red skin adds appealing color and pizzazz to potato salad, soups and stews.

Russets: Russets are characterized by a brown, netted skin and white flesh. The delicate potato flavor and grainy texture of a baked russet creates light and fluffy mashed potatoes and crispy pan-fried potatoes.

Whites: This all-purpose potato has a white flesh and white (sometimes light tan) skin. They are slightly dense and creamy, with a subtly sweet flavor. Their delicate, thin skins add just the right amount of texture to mashed potatoes without the need for peeling. Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor; or use them in soups and stews.

Yellows: This type boasts golden skin and golden flesh. Grilling gives them a crispy skin, which enhances the dense and buttery texture, and gives them a slightly sweet, caramelized flavor. Their naturally smooth texture also lends itself well to lighter versions of baked or roasted potatoes.

To get more healthful potato recipes and to sign up for the US Potato Board’s weekly recipe email, visit www.potatogoodness com. You can also “like” the USPB on Facebook at ww.facebook.com/potatoestatersandspuds to enter contests, sign up for sweepstakes and get new recipes with a community of potato lovers.

Spinach and Artichoke Heart Two-Potato Casserole

Makes 8 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 pound red potatoes

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes

11/4 cups vegetable broth or stock

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon garlic salt

4 ounces Neufchatel (1/3-less fat) cream cheese

4 ounces fat-free cream cheese

1 7.5-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a board and slice very thinly. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat broth, Parmesan, garlic salt, cheeses and artichoke hearts in a medium saucepan until cheeses are melted.

Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.

Stir mixture into potatoes with green onions, mixing well to coat potatoes as evenly as possible.

Spread in prepared dish and bake for 30 min utes. Cover loosely with foil and reduce tempera ture to 375 degrees; cook for 1 hour more or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Quick Tip: To shave an hour off the cook time, boil potatoes for 5 minutes or until tender, then drain well. Prepare as directed above then bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

Mediterranean Mashed Potatoes

Makes 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 to 13 minutes

11/4 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (best for light and fluffy mashed potatoes), or 11/4 pounds white or red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (best for creamier mashed potatoes)

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1/2 cup fat-free milk

11/2 tablespoons heart-healthy buttery spread

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt)

1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian blend shredded cheese

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil

2 green onions, sliced

1 2.2-ounce can sliced ripe olives, drained

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until tender; drain well. Transfer back to pot and mash well, then stir in yogurt, milk, buttery spread and salt. Gently stir in remaining ingredients and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more to heat through.

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad with Lemon and Thyme

Recipe created by Laura Bashar, Family Spice, www.familyspice.com.

Makes 6 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 to 25 minutes

Cool time: At least 10 minutes

Salad:

11/2 pounds fingerling potatoes (mixed colors), cut into 1/2-inch circles

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch cubes (do not separate layers)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Dressing:

1/4 cup light or olive oil based mayonnaise

11/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

11/2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes start to brown.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl; toss with cooled vegetables. Serve at room temperature or chilled.