I’ve got gardening on the brain. My heirloom seed catalog is dog-eared, and I just created my gardening board on Pinterest last week. Btw, on a side note –Pinterest, where have you been all my life?. My first thought when I first saw Pinterest was “somebody finally understands the way my brain works”. You mean I can organize all of my obsessions on colorful little boards in a socially acceptable way? As much as I could expound upon my love affair with Pinterest, this post is not about that. This post is not even about how my garden will be expanding, yet again this year, after its already formidable expansion in 2011(not sure the Mister knows this). It is about how I got witness the exciting lifecycle of the humble potato.
Potatoes appear in the grocery store in mass quantities and limited varieties. You have your Russets, Reds, Yukon Golds, and, occasionally, Fingerlings, usually appearing dusty but free of any large bits of dirt, and stacked into a half pyramid by a college-aged student daydreaming about more exciting things. That’s the thing about mundane jobs. In a way, they allow your mind to escape to other places. Potatoes are one of those things we just take for granted–like running water, or shoes, but did you ever think about how the humble potato came to be? Before last summer, I had a vague idea about potatoes growing in the ground, but didn’t know quite how scintillating the life cycle of a potato could be.
It all begins with a seed potato. I’m sure you’ve seen a replication of a seed potato. You know, when you forget about that russet you were going to use, and it gets pushed to the back of the cabinet. The only way you remember it’s there is when, like in a science fiction movie from the 50s, its white, spider like fingers begin to emerge from the darkness. I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of, upon discovery, leaving it for a few extra days, just to see what happens. That shriveled scientific experiment of a potato is where it all begins. The potato starts out much less cute than it becomes–a ugly duckling, if you will. After the sprouts grow from its weird little eyes, you cut the potato into little squares, one eye per square, and you let the cuts dry out for a couple of days.Then comes the high maintenance part. After you plant the gnarly little guys, you have to keep covering their foliage with soil as it emerges into the light…Back, beast! Eventually, at harvest time, you’ll dig into the soil and find the most beautiful, solid, smooth skinned, vibrant potatoes you’ve ever seen or tasted.
My favorite way to prepare potatoes is to roast them. Olive oil and salt are always a good starting place, a place from which any other improvisation can happen. This time, I tossed the potatoes in olive oil, salt, cracked pepper and dijon mustard, and roasted them until their sides turned golden, but their insides still soft. I gave them a couple generous squeezes of lemon juice and a scattering of fresh chopped parsley. The roasty but bright flavors are equally perfect for a lazy Sunday morning, for a more formal brunch, or even for dinner (just cut the potato pieces a little bigger and they magically transform into dinner potatoes!).
Hey girl, please tell me that I’m not the only on who finds seed starting season horribly exciting. This spring, let’s let our garden geek flags fly together.
- 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small lemon, halved
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Toss the potatoes with the minced garlic, dijon mustard, kosher salt, pepper and olive oil. Spread in a single layer across two baking sheets. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing occasionally, until parts are golden brown. Squeeze juice from the lemon halves over the potatoes and stir to coat. Continue to bake for 3-4 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven, toss with the parsley, and season with additional kosher salt and lemon juice if desired.