March is a fabulous month. Being full of Irish on both sides of my family, March is obviously a big deal for me, but even those without a touch o’ green in their blood can appreciate the earliest hints of spring as March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” As tempting as it was to feature exclusively Irish recipes this month, I decided to highlight just one famous component of Irish cuisine, but find recipes that would appeal to everyone regardless of various tastes and traditions. Naturally, the potato steals the spotlight because it is easily available, takes on many flavors nicely, is affordable, and yes, even healthy!
The potato may have a bit of a reputation as an empty carbohydrate to be avoided at all costs, especially when smothered in butter, cheese, and gravy, but if you give these little spuds a chance you will find they can be used in more than the standard comfort food recipes. Potatoes are in the Solanaceae or nightshade family and are packed with vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese. Another virtue of this often masked with butter veggie is that it contains many phytonutrients (enough to rival broccoli) which are wonderful combinations of antioxidants. So if you are looking for a way to warm up in the midst of March winds or in need of an innovative recipe for those accumulating spuds in your pantry, take a look at these fabulous recipes from people who know how to make the mundane new again. And as the Irish say, “It is easy to halve the potato where there’s love.”
1. Crainquebille Potatoes ~ Here is a side dish that will change your mind about the flavors previously assigned to potatoes. This tasty potato dish makes a nice addition to any meal and adds the unexpected punch of tomatoes while keeping a bit of familiarity –the crunchy, cheesy, gratin topping. When you are looking at that bag of potatoes in your pantry wondering how to divert from the usual mash style served with meat, take a chance on this brightened rendition of a gratin.
2. Potato Scones~ Here is a recipe for those looking to try an traditional Irish dish or anyone who wants a tasty medium to top with original ingredients. If you ask me, the toppings used in the authors recipe look divine, but feel free to add anything that suits your fancy. Potatoes change ‘costume’ in this recipe from being left whole or mashed, to starring as a dough base. If you need an easy dish to add to your St. Patrick’s Day feast, you can’t go wrong with a warm Irish Potato Scone!
3. Sweet Potato Gnocchi~ All this talk of potatoes may conjure up images of brown, white, yellow, or red spuds, but don’t leave out the delicious sweet potato! As if sweet potatoes with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper aren’t tasty enough, this author uses them for Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Arugula and Hazelnuts! Is your mouth watering yet? Don’t let the thought of making your own gnocchi intimidate you, it is quite easy and well worth the leap of faith to have your own fluffy, flavorful potato pockets to pair with the deep flavor of hazelnuts and the bite of arugula. So try this fresh approach to Italian and put aside the usual pasta. Cook up some sweet potatoes tonight!
4. Potato and Fresh Herb Soup ~ March is the perfect time for creamy soups with a dash of flavor insinuating the season ahead. The weather is still mild enough in many places to have hot soup, but some of us may be craving the lighter flavors of spring and summer. This wonderful recipe for Potato and Fresh Herb Soup has the best of both worlds in the combination of hearty potatoes and cream touched with the bright flavors of spring herbs such as chives, parsley, thyme, and sage. There is something magical about a bowl of velvety potato soup at your disposal. In fact, you may find your family and friends miraculously appear to enjoy a dish like this because as my great-grandmother used to say, “You will always have conversation and company when you have good potato soup on the table.”
5. Potato and Spring Onion Croquettes ~ If you have yet to try croquettes, here is your ticket to falling in love with them. This recipe for Potato and Spring Onion Croquettes will have you convinced that you need to make them as a frequent addition to any meal. To ensure crispy texture while keeping the volume of a baked good, the author both fries and bakes these delectable bundles of potato. The author also gives several variations on the recipe (I am banking on the Colcannon variation this week) to try but once again, as the potato takes on a variety of flavors so well, you can add anything you like be it meat, veggies, cheeses, even flakey fish! Ditch the croquettes in your freezer section and pull out the potatoes at home!
About the Author:
Hello everyone! My name is Stephani Teran and I am food enthusiast to say the least. Food and I go together like a poached egg on whole grain toast with goat cheese, drizzled honey, and peppercorns…see what I mean? It is family tradition, many generations back, to revere cooking and baking as an honorable art from and more of a privilege than a chore. I am more heart than expertise in the culinary arts, but boy do I have fun attempting ‘foodie’ status. I hope I can help you ditch that silly rule about not playing with your food –I say the more play, the better! When I’m not busy running after my boys or finding the perfect dish to serve to them, I’m busy editing my historical fiction novel that is set in Ireland.