Celebrating the Potato

A friend reminded me that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The timing is impeccable. With the global cost of wheat 83 percent higher than a year ago and that of rice up by 20 percent since the beginning of this year, the potato is being touted as a low-cost solution to easing the global food crisis.

After wheat and rice, the potato is the world's number three crop, but unlike the grains, it's not a global commodity. According to the FAO, about six percent of the world's potatoes are on the international market, compared to approximately 17 percent for wheat. That's because the potato is more perishable -- prone to rot -- and because of its bulky nature, more costly to transport. The upside of this lesser export potential is that countries can think local versus global, growing their own, easy-to-harvest potatoes, with more control over prices, and feeding themselves.

In Peru, ancient home of the potato, there's a nationwide push to
to substitute costly wheat flour with potato flour
(video link) in bread and baked goods.

We tend to think that potatoes are caloric wastelands, but that's because we eat so many darned French fries. A non-fried potato is actually a good source of Vitamins B6 and C, potassium and dietary fiber, plus a fair amount of protein.

In honor of the spud, I've compiled a bunch of links to potato-centric recipes that have served me well over the years.

Long-time readers know I'm a big fan of mayo-free potato salad, particularly with cook-out season around the corner.

Brunch is always better, I say, with a frittata, especially when studded with diced potatoes that get melty and sweet inside. (A good last-minute Mother's Day treat to boot.)

As much as I love a crispy frite as the next guy, there's comfort galore in this potato and green bean pie, a handy side dish for a big supper crowd. Speaking of cozy, a pot of Vietnamese-style chicken, lemongrass and potato curry, will take the edge off on a rainy day.

How could I forget my adventures making gnocchi, which I recommend everyone try at least once, particularly when basil is in season and you can sauce them up with a glorious pesto.

And now, potato heads, it's your turn. Share your tried-and-true spud specials in the comments area.

By Kim ODonnel |  May 8, 2008; 11:18 AM ET Food Politics
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Wait, do we have to choose just one?
I love simple things like mashed potatoes with buttermilk and chives; sweet potato latkes, or just roasted potatoes.
I actually have a few ideas on my blog: check it out!


Posted by: Olga | May 8, 2008 12:17 PM

i love potato pancakes from various cuisines including my own--indian-- paronthe (unleavened bread stuffed with mixture of potatoes, onion and spices)...potatoes are quite common in north indian home-cooking and are combined with green peppers, eggplant, or beans for sabzis

Posted by: ny, ny | May 8, 2008 12:18 PM

Well, there's always potato soup. And if all of the markets around you are selling crawfish meat, you can add a pound to your soup. Method: A couple of onions sautéed in butter. Add most of a head of chopped celery. Add 3 pounds chopped red potatoes. Add just enough milk to cover. Add salt, pepper, two bay leaves. When potatoes are almost tender, add pound of Louisiana fresh crawfish meat. If you are single, morosely eat this over the next 4 days. Add Tabasco garlic pepper sauce as needed.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2008 12:23 PM

Eggs in Purgatory! This is a Giada di Laurentiis recipe, and I just love it for a quick dinner. Combine leftover mashed potatoes with one egg and about a tablespoon of flour (I use potato starch flour, as I am gluten-free, and it works fine). Form into patties and saute in olive oil until golden brown. Serve on a pool of jarred tomato sauce with one fried egg (runny yolk) and grated parmesan cheese on each. Very quick and super good!

Posted by: Rosslyn | May 8, 2008 12:35 PM

Perfect timing, Kim. I have two extra potatoes leftover after making latkes that I was just going to roast, but now I think I'll make a frittata! Yum!

Posted by: U street girl | May 8, 2008 12:39 PM

Spanish tortilla (similar to a frittata) is a favorite weekend brunch dish for us. That and a big salad.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | May 8, 2008 3:14 PM

how can you pick just one? or two? or three?

i have NEVER met a potato i didn't like.

i think my mom craved potatoes when she was pregnant with me. i LOVE potatos and have been known to eat them 3x's a day every day for week!

plus snacks!!

Posted by: nall92 | May 9, 2008 8:37 AM

Can you use potato flour in cakes and cookies and other sweet baked goods?

Posted by: Meg | May 14, 2008 5:11 PM

Kim -- thanks for the mayo-less potato salad. We tried a variation tonight we particularly liked. Started with baby reds and steamed them, then tossed w/ a dressing made from applewood smoked bacon drippings, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, roasted garlic, and olive oil... yum yum, yum...

Posted by: KD | May 14, 2008 8:08 PM

In the original Time-Life Series, there was the best potato recipe for this potato lover ever.

It was called Janssen's Temptation- It is a classic Scandinavian dish (it was in the Scandinavian cookbook) - I don't know the copyright laws or I would send it.

Posted by: S. Gordon | May 15, 2008 11:41 AM

First of all, I want to thank you for this article. My food bill has just about doubled in the last few years. I'm always looking for new ways to feed my family and stay within my budget. And, thanks to all who responded w/ your handy recipes. I will definitely try them out. Good luck to all - trying to find creative ways to stretch their dollars in our slow economy (recession). Take care!

Posted by: Inspire DJ | May 15, 2008 1:32 PM

I like potatoes so much I've begun to resemble one!

There are lots of recipes for Janssen's Temptation on the net; here's one: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mr-Janssens-Temptation/Detail.aspx.

Anna Thompson, in her wonderful book The Vegetarian Epicure (1972 by Vintage Books, Random House, with a second volume, same title, but with "Two" added) has a recipe for Potatoes Romanoff, which isn't low fat, but is a wonderful winter dish. This recipe (http://www.thefunplace.com/recipes/00208.html) is pretty close, although we always used fresh garlic. Great way to get some dairy as an ovo-lacto vegetarian.

Posted by: NCS | May 17, 2008 8:48 PM

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