August 26, 2009
The potato hunt is something Cherie looks forward to

It feels a lot like the dyed Easter Egg hunts I loved as a kid, and staged for our daughter when she was little. 

The building anticipation as you seek something cunningly hidden – something special and pretty – followed by the delicious thrill of finding each brightly-hued egg, and the satisfaction of adding it to the growing pile in your basket.

This must be what it feels like to be a pirate who finds buried treasure, too.

I’m talking about digging potatoes, something I can’t wait to do this afternoon.  But not just any old potatoes – purple potatoes. 

Several years ago, my eyes opened to the wonderfully (and genetically) diverse world of heirloom plants.  Essentially, these are open-pollinated plant cultivars with long histories, many of them endangered because they fell out

The purple potato known as the Purple Viking

of favor as the popularity of commercial hybrid cultivars boomed. 

I’ve always been a fan of potatoes, but now love them even more as I continue to discover different heirloom varieties.  The first year of my heirloom conversion, I grew a fantastic dusky purple potato with creamy-white flesh called the Purple Viking. 

The next season, I planted Viking seed potatoes I’d saved, and added super-productive All Blues, which shimmered a gorgeous deep purple on the outside after washing, and once cut open, were a startling purple-blue through and through. 

Today, I’ll be searching for All Blue potatoes, as well as this year’s new variety:  slender French Fingerlings with red skin, creamy-yellow flesh, and a buttery texture when cooked.

Here’s what I’ll be making with my buried treasure:

Garlic Roasted Potatoes
(adapted from Greek Meze Cooking, Tapas of the Aegean, by Sarah Maxwell)

Ingredients
• About 2 lbs. large heirloom potatoes
• ½ cup olive oil
• ½ cup lemon juice
• 2 tsp. dried oregano
• 3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• salt and pepper to taste
• ½ cup water

Preparation
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut potatoes into small wedges and put in large shallow baking dish.  Stir together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and add to the potatoes.  Toss to coat. 

Bake at the top of the oven, uncovered, for 1 hour until the potatoes are crisp outside and soft inside.  Stir several times during cooking to rearrange potatoes, and add a little more water if needed.
 
Gotta go dig, 

~ Cherie 

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