Lumpy, bumpy, often covered with dirt, the lowly potato seems wretchedly unsophisticated in the produce aisle. Compared to more elegant offerings–alluring stalks of asparagus, the slender and elegant leaves of a Belgian endive, the graceful curves of a lush, glossy eggplant–potatoes are downright homely. But hailing from deep within the earth, they’re nurturing and reliable in a way other vegetables of a more frivolous nature could never hope to be.
The varieties number in the dozens, from exotic cultivars like Magic Molly and Caribe to the more commonplace red potatoes and Yukon gold, but all are high in antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium, with a decent amount of fiber. Blue varieties also contain anthocyanins, the same antioxidants in blueberries. And though sweet potatoes are only distant cousins, they have the same qualities of grounding and comforting, and they’re rich in carotenes and fiber.
Like most things understated, potatoes need only a bit of coaxing to bring out their charms. Mash them with butter and sea salt to enjoy their subtly sweet creaminess, rub them with oil and roast them to develop a rich caramelized crust with a tender center, or marry them with vegetables and spices that highlight their earthy warmth. Suddenly, the potato can be downright sophisticated.
Red Potato, Spinach and Mushroom Hash with Poached Eggs
Swap finely chopped kale for the spinach, increase the garlic and add a minced chipotle pepper before roasting, for a more robust dish. You can also skip the poached eggs and serve these with most any meal; they’re excellent as a side dish with roast chicken.
3 large red potatoes, cut in a medium dice
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped small
8 cups baby spinach, chopped small
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until just beginning to get tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain well and spread onto a baking sheet; let cool. Toss with pepper, salt, oregano, cumin, cayenne, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add mushrooms and onions, and toss to mix. Spread on baking sheet again, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes are crispy.
3. When the potatoes are almost done, remove from oven and add chopped spinach. Return to oven to continue cooking. In a large saute pan, bring 4 inches of water and 1 tablespoon vinegar or 2 teaspoons sea salt to a low simmer. Crack one egg into a cup and gently lower the egg into the water. Repeat with remaining eggs, being careful not to crowd pan, and poach at a low simmer until just set, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
4. To serve, divide potato and spinach mixture between four plates. Top each with a poached egg. Garnish with chives, and serve immediately.
Next: Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Adobo Cream and Cauliflower-Potato Mash with Arugula and Shallots