This is a love letter. An ode, if you will.
Douglas Adams apparently once said, “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problem just with potatoes.”
I beg to differ.
Over the years, favorite foods have come and gone. (Brussels sprouts are still holding strong.) But potatoes were a constant.
Twice-baked. Scalloped. Mashed, of course. Salt-roasted. Baked and buttered, or loaded with bacon, scallions and sour cream. Fries, wedges, chips. Tots. Pureed with leeks and cream for soup. Hash browns. Home fries.
So many options. All of them a favorite.
When I was much younger, French fries were my vehicle of choice to consume as much ketchup as possible. (There’s another favorite, for you.)
Having Celiac makes enjoying potatoes more difficult. While potatoes are inherently safe (as long as nothing is added), fryers shared with breaded items make enjoying deep-fried potatoes difficult. When I find a restaurant with a dedicated potato-only fryer and Belgian-style frites on the menu, I guarantee that I will eat an entire order. By. My. Self.
I still remember the first time I had true Belgian-style frites, bought from a tiny cart in a tiny town in Belgium. (We might have been in the Netherlands. I can’t remember now.) Steaming hot, salty, wrapped in a cone of paper and served with a healthy dollop of warm mayo in the center. Rich and kind of weird, but those fries on that brick-lined street were a true revelation. That ketchup-loving kid has graduated to all kinds of aioli.
Now, if I’m not eating potatoes diced and roasted or baked or mashed or hash-browned, I use them as a binder in my salmon patties. Potatoes are an easy, naturally gluten-free way to keep that family recipe alive.
For a long time, sweet potatoes were my go-to. My comfort food. I would dice them, get a bit heavy-handed with the seasoning, and roast them until soft and caramelized.
I’ve spiralized and riced sweet potatoes for a grain-free risotto. Tonight, I spiralized half of a sweet potato, sauteed with sliced onion and Brussels sprouts and topped it all off with locally-made turmeric kraut.
When I was younger, my mom used to spiralize potatoes, long before it was the cool thing to do to vegetables. She used an apple peeler/corer/slicer (you know the one, from Pampered Chef) to create long, wide, potato ribbons. Drizzled with olive oil, tossed with pressed garlic and roasted. Soft and buttery with crispy edges, these potatoes were always my favorite. (Well, there was also the spicy beef and potato soup, an instant winter warm-up. And the twice-baked potatoes made from scratch. And the cheesy potato casserole.)
Oh, the potato. How humble, and yet so essential.
My idea of heaven is a great, big baked potato and someone to share it with.
— Oprah Winfrey
A few of my favorites
No recipe today. I couldn’t narrow down all of the choices to one succinct recipe that could adequately summarize my love for potatoes. Instead, I’m sharing a few links to recipes I love or have ogled from afar.
This Four Cheese Bourbon Potato Gratin. Oh LAWD. I would walk 500 miles…and then I would walk 500 more to have this gratin show up at my door.
I feel like the emoji with hearts for eyes when I see these Crispy Cheesy Potato Stacks. Be still, my heart.
Skinny Greek Feta Fries with Roasted Garlic Saffron Aioli: You had me at fries. Give me all the fries.
Speaking of fries … these Kimchi Fries with Avocado Mayo. I mean. Really? Done deal.
A resounding yes to these Homemade Potato Chips with Sriracha BBQ Sauce and Greek Yogurt Blue Cheese. Just yes.
Make these Perfect Sheet Pan Hash Browns and give me all the crispy edges. (Confession: I can’t make hash browns to save my life. A few years ago, I gave in and started waffling them in my waffle iron. Not terrible, I tell you.)
I’m so intrigued by these Salt and Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes. I’ve only recently jumped on the salt+vinegar flavor wagon. I’d be curious to try this with apple cider vinegar, or a blend of different kinds of vinegar for amped up flavor. (And because I really just can’t leave anything alone.)
This Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Chili Oil is total perfection. My two favorite things, together again.
Compiling this post has made me insanely hungry.
So. Who wants to split a baked potato with me, Oprah style? It is Valentine’s Day, after all.