Meat and potatoes: The phrase brings to mind food that is simple and hearty and perhaps somewhat boring.
But the starchy tubers, which originated in South America, are anything but boring. There are many varieties of potatoes from which to choose, each with its own texture and flavor. And preparing a potato dish doesn’t mean just boiling and mashing them up (although that can be delicious).
A couple of recent cookbooks feature recipes in which potatoes provide the foundation for tasty and interesting dishes.
One, Recipes from the Root Cellar (Storey Publishing, 2010) devotes many pages to recipes starring spuds. It also delivers this interesting fact: The typical American consumes more than 140 pounds of potatoes a year. That’s a lot of taters.
And those spuds are nutritious. A potato with the skin is rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
Here is a Root Cellar recipe that uses three kinds of root vegetables to create an appetizing, simple-to-prepare dish that could serve as an entrée or vegetable course.
1 large russet potato (about 12 ounces), sliced very thinly, and peeled if desired
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved then sliced thinly
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss, Gruyère or Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 10-inch tart pan or pie pan. Combine potato, butter, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in bowl. Toss gently to coat. Press into bottom and up sides of tart pan to form shell. Bake 20 minutes. As tart shell bakes, heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onion is limp and well colored, about 10 minutes. When tart shell comes out of oven, top with onion mixture, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts and turns golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving. Can also be served at room temperature.
Servings: 4. Serving size: 1 wedge. Per serving: 247 calories, 6 g protein, 15.6 g fat, 20.5 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g dietary fiber, 339 mg sodium, 2.6 g sugars, 27 mg cholesterol
Cook’s Tip: Slice potatoes thinly and evenly for best results.
Another recently published cookbook features more than 900 pages of recipes that will appeal to scores of different tastes, all of them with a decidedly Southern drawl. Southern Living’s 1001 Ways To Cook Southern (Oxmoor House, 2010) isn’t cornpone and cracklins, but features a sophisticated Southern fare. Nevertheless, there are a few twists on old favorites, including this cornbread recipe that adds in the flavor of sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Cornbread
2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients, whisking together just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into greased 8-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Servings: 8. Serving size: 1 piece. Per serving: 244 calories, 5.4 g protein, 8.1 g fat, 37.3 g carbohydrates, 3.2 g dietary fiber, 419 mg sodium, 11.1 g sugars, 46 mg cholesterol
Cook’s Tip: Be sure to use self-rising cornmeal mix or your bread will be flat and hard.