You Say Potato…

Posted by Quynh Nguyen on December 23rd, 2010

If you’ve been to a Fresh for All lately, you’ve probably gotten potatoes. Plenty of potatoes. By now you might be running out of ideas, but I want to tell you that potatoes are amazing! They are tough, like little veggie biker dudes, and will take whatever you do to them with grace.

Nutritionally, sometimes spuds get a bad rap. They’re a “starch,” yes, but eating lots of potatoes isn’t a bad choice for your diet. They are made up of 70 to 80 percent water, so they naturally hydrate. They also contain high amounts of potassium and Vitamin C. Potato skins provide iron, too. They can (and should) be eaten! If you’re going to keep them on, just remember to give the little guy a scrub under warm water before you get cooking.

I believe that you really only need 3 things to make any vegetable completely amazing.

1. Heat.
2. Fat.
3. Patience.

I have yet to find a vegetable that doesn’t totally reach its potential after 40 minutes in a hot oven, covered with olive oil. Olive oil is a great choice for a cooking fat because it’s chock full of omega 3 fatty acids (good for your heart!) and has practically no cholesterol or sodium. The great thing is that a little olive oil goes a long way, so any fear you have about adding “fat” to your food – set it aside! Drizzle with confidence.

When roasting, I like to use this rule of thumb: when you think they’re done, leave them in for 5 more minutes. When vegetables roast, the natural sugars in them caramelize and they become sweeter, more tender, and delicious. After a while, you might take a peek in the oven and realize, yes, they are cooked. But it’s that extra five minutes, when the edges brown and crisp up ever so slightly, that make the big difference. You do not want to burn them, under any circumstances, but don’t be afraid of browning.

The important thing to remember about fresh vegetables, like the humble but noble potato, is that they are perfect just as they are. They don’t come from a colorful box that can magically sit on a shelf for weeks without going bad. They are alive – the earth worked really hard to make them for us, and we should show our appreciation by eating them in their natural form. A raw potato holds millions of possibilities. With some heat, some fat, and some patience, I think we can discover a whole lot of them!

  • Roasted Potatoes, Your Way
  • Potatoes, skin on and scrubbed
  • Any oven-safe vessel (a baking dish, a metal pan, the old Pyrex dish your mom got you when you moved out, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Your own personal seasoning style
  • A Teaspoon each of:

• Italian – thyme, rosemary, and oregano
• Indian – cumin, coriander, and a pinch of ginger
• A squirt of Dijon mustard and a pinch of dill
• Cajun – cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder
• You can always get a packet of seasoning mix at the store and add that – my mom’s personal favorite is onion soup mix.


Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place them into your roasting vessel of choice. You want to make sure all the potatoes are on one level – piling them up and overcrowding your pan or dish will result in uneven cooking. I often start cutting and tossing, only to realize halfway through that I need to switch to a bigger dish! Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil – a good rule of thumb is count to 3 while you pour. (You can always add more if you need it, but it’s a real pain to get it out of there once it’s in!) Sprinkle a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then (if you want) pick a seasoning style and add that. Then toss with your hands a whole lot. You want each potato to be shiny and covered in oil and seasoning, but you don’t want too much oil left at the bottom of the pan. Put into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, take a break to give them a toss so they cook evenly, and then leave in the oven for another 20. Check for the combination of awesome smell/crispy brown edges. Enjoy by themselves, in addition to any meal, or my favorite way – topped with a fried egg and hot sauce. Oh, yeah.

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