As with the novel, the demise of the potato is much discussed but never actually materializes, at least not in my house. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you cook potatoes that will go with Mediterranean dishes, Eastern European food, Indian, Greek, or sort-of-French recipes. You can stick them in the oven on the shelf below (or alongside) whatever starch-less main course you’re cooking. The first recipe is the most basic and can take endless simple variations. You do have to make sure your potatoes are cut to the correct (and roughly the same) size, though these are forgiving rather than exacting dishes. Cooked potatoes are tender and the tip of a knife will tell you whether they’re ready or not.
Rosemary, garlic & olive oil-roast potatoes
The most basic throw-it-in-the-oven potatoes. I make this all the time, though sometimes leave out the garlic. Take 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes—waxy or russet, though they will give you different results (I usually go for waxy)—and cut them into chunks just a little smaller than a walnut. Separate the cloves from 2 heads of garlic, but don’t peel them. Strip the leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs (have another 3 whole sprigs). Put all of this in a roasting pan in which everything can lie in a single layer and add 2–3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast in an oven preheated to 400°F for 35 minutes, tossing them a couple of times as they cook. Smoked paprika or crushed red pepper (or both) are a good addition. serves 4
Thyme roast potatoes with onions, black olives & goat cheese
Halve or quarter 1 1/2 lbs of waxy creamer potatoes. Toss them in a roasting pan in which they can lie in a single layer, with 2 red onions, cut into wedges, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and 8 thyme sprigs. Roast in an oven preheated to 400°F for 35 minutes, shaking halfway through. About 7 minutes before the end of cooking time, add 3 tablespoons of small black olives (unpitted are fine) and 5 1/2 oz of goat cheese, broken into chunks. serves 4
Roast potatoes with feta cheese, green chilies, & mint
Halve or quarter 1 1/2 lbs of waxy creamer potatoes. Put them in a roasting pan in which they can lie in a single layer, toss in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and season. Put them in an oven preheated to 400°F and cook for 20 minutes. Take them out and add 1–2 green chilies —depending on how hot you want the dish to be—halved, seeded, and finely shredded. Toss everything around in the oil and return to the oven for a final 15–20 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese and the torn leaves from 6 mint sprigs. Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the top and serve. serves 4
From the Oven to the Table
by Diana Henry
Roast potatoes with bacon, scallions, paprika & caraway
Halve or quarter 1 1/2 lbs of waxy creamer potatoes. Put them in a roasting pan in which they can lie in a single layer and add 1 large onion, cut into wedges about 1/2-in thick, 1/2 lb of 1/4 in-thick bacon lardons, 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds, 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika, and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Toss everything around and roast for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°F, then brush a little oil on 16 thin trimmed scallions. Toss the vegetables and bacon, lay the scallions on top, and roast for 15 minutes. The potatoes should be tender and the scallions soft and a little charred. serves 4–6
Roast potatoes & tomatoes with anchovies, capers, fennel & rosemary
Halve or quarter 1 1/2 lbs of waxy creamer potatoes. Put them in a roasting pan in which they can lie in a single layer and toss them with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the roughly chopped leaves of 2 rosemary sprigs, 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds (bash the fennel a little in a mortar first). Roast in an oven preheated to 400°F for 15 minutes, then add 1/3 lb of cherry tomatoes. Toss them and roast for another 15 minutes. Add 10 chopped anchovies, plus 1 tablespoon of oil from the anchovy can or jar, and 2 tablespoons of rinsed and drained capers, patted dry. Toss everything again and roast in the oven for a final 5 minutes. Taste. The capers and anchovies are salty, so you shouldn’t need seasoning. serves 4
Baby potatoes & leeks baked in paper with herb butter
Mash 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter with 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped chives and flat leaf parsley leaves (chervil is good, too, if you can get it) and a splash of dry white vermouth. Halve or quarter 1lb 2oz of waxy creamer potatoes. Trim 2 leeks, discard the coarse outer leaves, and cut into lengths of about 1 n. Cut out 6 rectangles of parchment paper, each about 14 x 12in. Put the potatoes, leeks, and seasoning in the middle of each piece of paper and add a generous pat of the butter. Bring the edges of the paper together and roll them tightly, allowing some room around the potatoes, then twist the ends so you have sealed parcels. Put on a baking sheet and bake for 35–40 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°F. The packages will puff up and the vegetables should be tender. Serve them in the parcels, so people can open them at the table. serves 6
Indian-spiced roast potatoes & cauliflower
A kind of roasted aloo gobi. Cut 1lb 2oz of russet potatoes into chunks the size of a walnut (peel them if you have time) and break a 2lb cauliflower into florets (keep the leaves). Toss the potatoes and cauliflower florets (reserve the leaves) in a bowl with 4 chopped plum tomatoes, 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds, and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds (toasted in a dry pan for a minute, then crushed a bit). Add 1 teaspoon of mild red Kashmiri chili powder, 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, and 1 1/4 oz of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated. Add 1/4 cup of peanut oil, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands. Spread out in a large roasting pan or sheet pan (use 2 if you need to) in which everything can lie in a single layer. Roast in an oven preheated to 400°F for 20 minutes, turning every so often. Add 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, and the cauliflower leaves, toss, and roast for a final 10 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and golden. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves and lime juice. serves 4–6
Roast sweet potatoes with cayenne & spinach
Wash 3 medium-small sweet potatoes, remove any tufts from the surface, and cut into 1in chunks. Toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a large sheet pan and put into the top of an oven preheated to 400°F. Roast for 50 minutes, turning once during cooking. Stir in a couple of handfuls of torn spinach leaves—they wilt in the heat of the potatoes—squeeze on the juice of 1/2 lemon, and serve. You can also add crumbled feta cheese, dill or mint leaves, or chopped olives (green or black) with the spinach. serves 4–6
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