By Alice Lowe.
This article first appeared in Let’s Talk Plants! March 2008, No. 162. While editing this newsletter in 2020, editor Karen England got hungry and made Alice Lowe's Herbed Potato Pie and had it for breakfast with sautéed nettles (see Sommer Cartier's Grow in Abundance column), roasted farmer's market cherry tomatoes and a fried fresh egg from one of her two hens. Absolutely delicious!
Much maligned as long as I can remember, potatoes, we were first told, make you fat! Then we learned that it’s not the potatoes themselves, it’s what you’re putting in them – the butter, cheese, sour cream, etc. – or putting them in, a kettle of fat. But then they became culpable for a much greater sin in the age of Atkins – carbs. In spite of it all, potatoes are still a popular and fundamental part of the American diet, a reliable standby and incomparable comfort food, as well as fat, cholesterol and sodium free, high in fiber, potassium, and other minerals and vitamins.
Let’s hear it for potatoes – they’re celebrated in various locales at planting or harvest time, most notably August Potato Days in Barnesville, Minnesota, and there’s a website for The Potato Underground.
We all have our favorite potato dishes and recipes – here are a couple of mine. Note: There are many potato varieties, with specific ones recommended for specific uses (e.g., russets for baking), but I typically use the red ones or Yukon Gold regardless of the preparation – I’ll leave it to you to choose your own favorites.
Herbed Potato Pie
Cut 4 potatoes into thin (1/8”) slices
Combine 2 tablespoons each of melted butter & olive oil with 1-2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence (or other crushed dried herbs).
Brush a pizza pan or shallow baking dish with a little of this mixture, & then arrange the potato slices evenly around the pan, overlapping them in circles.
Garlic Lovers’ Option – toss several whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in the remaining butter/oil & scatter on top of the potatoes.
Drizzle the rest of the butter/oil over them.
Bake at 450° about an hour, until browned & crisp on top.
Season with salt & pepper and serve up in quarters.
With a couple of potatoes, cut up into similar sized chunks any or all of an assortment of carrots, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips. Cover with water, add a little salt, and boil until tender. Smash or mash them to your liking – I do them coarsely with a fork, but many prefer smoothly pureed – with a little chicken or veg stock and just a bit of butter or olive oil. Then stir in ground black pepper and a big dollop of horseradish to give them an earthy tang.
Asian Variation – Instead of stock & butter, I’ll add a mixture of 2 tablespoons miso paste, 2 tablespoons mirin (or sherry) and 2 teaspoons sesame oil (for 4 servings) and then substitute wasabi paste for the horseradish.
Member Alice Lowe loves to garden, cook and eat, not necessarily in that order.