Potato – The Misunderstood Vegetable

By Eileen Goltz

The potato is a misunderstood vegetable.  It takes the blame for bulk and the flak for flab.  More nutritious than most of us realize, one medium potato has 45% of the vitamin C and 21% of the potassium our bodies need every day.  Potatoes are also a great source of fiber:  Just one serving of potatoes has 12% of the fiber we need daily.  And remember how Mom always told you to eat the potato skin?  She was right:  potato skins contain fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus and B vitamins.

A potato is low in calories, but it earned its bad rep due to the things people dump on this basic food to add flavor:  for example, adding two tablespoons of butter or margarine to your potato will add about 24 grams of fat and 215 calories to your daily calorie count.  To keep your potato healthy and low fat, add only small amounts of “light” butter or margarine, low fat sour cream or yogurt instead of regular butter or margarine.

I have to confess that my favorite way to eat ’em is mashed, loaded with all the stuff that makes them delicious and full of calories.  They are a guilty pleasure.  Almost all of the following recipes have my family’s stamp of approval.  They can be made pareve (except those with cheese or chicken broth), ahead of time and if you use light margarine or light sour cream where called for, they can actually be low in calories.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
½ c. butter or margarine, cut into pieces
1 c. finely chopped onion
3 T. finely chopped garlic
1 c. whipping cream or non-dairy creamer

In a large pot, cover the potatoes with salted water and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Return potatoes to pot.  While the potatoes are cooking melt ¼ c. butter or margarine in large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until it’s translucent, about three minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about three more minutes.  Add onion-garlic mixture to potatoes.  Add cream or non-dairy creamer and remaining ¼ c. butter or margarine.  With a mashing utensil, mash the mixture coarsely, stirring occasionally with a spoon to make sure that the onions and garlic are evenly mixed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.  Serves 6 to 8.

Mashed Potatoes with Green Onions and Parmesan

2 large russet potatoes (about 1¼ lbs.), peeled, cut into chunks
2 T. milk
2 T. butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling water until tender.  Drain well.  Press the potatoes through a food mill or ricer into same pot or return to pot and mash. (If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, just mash them until they are very smooth.)  Mix in the milk and 1½ T. butter.

Melt remaining ½ T. butter in heavy small skillet.  Add green onions and sauté until wilted, about one minute.  Add to potatoes.  Add the Parmesan cheese and mix gently.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve.  Serves 2.  This can be doubled or tripled.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole

8 large potatoes, peeled
1-2 T. onion salt
1 pt. sour cream or plain yogurt
4 T. butter, melted
1 c. grated cheese (Cheddar or Colby)

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Drain and then mash the potatoes with the onion salt and sour cream.  Add the butter and mix well.  Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish with a non-stick vegetable spray.  Place the potato mixture in the casserole dish and press down slightly.  Top the potato mixture with the cheese.  Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least an hour before baking.  (This can be made a day in advance and baked just before serving).  Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.  Serves 6 to 8.

Fluffy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2½ lbs.)
½ c. skim milk or non-dairy creamer, heated
¾ t. salt
1 T. packed brown sugar
1/8 t. nutmeg (optional)

Boil the diced sweet potatoes in enough water to cover for 14 to 16 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain thoroughly in a colander, until all water is gone.  Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric beater (not a food processor, or the potatoes will become gummy).  Add the hot milk or non-dairy creamer, a few drops at time, until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy.  Add the salt, brown sugar and nutmeg and beat on high speed until very fluffy.  Serve hot or warm.  Serves 6.

Roasted Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips

3 large russet potatoes (1½ – 2 lbs. total), quartered
4 medium parsnips (1 lb. total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 c. chicken broth
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1/3 c. non-dairy creamer
3 T. margarine

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place the potatoes, parsnips, broth, salt, and pepper in a greased, shallow baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until very tender.  Remove them from the oven and cool slightly.  In a small saucepan (or microwave) heat the non-dairy creamer and margarine together until the margarine is melted and the mixture is warm, but not hot.  Place the vegetable mixture in a bowl and mash it, adding non-dairy creamer/margarine mixture until the mixture is combined, but still slightly chunky.  Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle the top with a little paprika.  Serves 6 to 8.

© Eileen Goltz 2000

This article was featured in the Spring 2000 issue of Jewish Action.
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