Food Focus – Spud-tacular !

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine – February 2019.

Mashed, baked, julienned … what’s not to love about the vitamin-rich potato? Nutrition Editor Eve Kalinik chips in.

From the floury Maris Piper to the velvety Vivaldi, to the perfectly proportioned Jersey Royal and the honourable King Edward, the potato may be deemed humble alongside its fellow veg but, as some of its more noble names indicate, it should be royally celebrated.

You might be surprised to know that potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, with one medium-sized spud providing around 70 per cent of the recommended daily intake. This helps to support energy, immunity and skin health. And they boast a decent amount of B vitamins and magnesium, too – the nutrients we need for energy, among many other physiological processes. Being one of the richest sources of potassium also makes them a good source of this vital mineral that has myriad functions in the body.

When it comes to gut health, potatoes provide fibre that is important for our gut microbes, as they flourish on a fibrous feast, and it is a healthy and thriving microbiome that we need to support. Try to enjoy your spuds with skins on, as there is a greater fibre content, which gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to the microbiome. Interestingly, when potatoes are cooked and fully cooled – think potato salad – the starch molecules transform into something called resistant starch, which behaves a bit like fibre, in that it resists digestion and finds its way to the microbiome, giving an additional potent ‘feeding’ effect.

There is a plethora of marvellous ways to cook, eat and enjoy your spuds. Personally, I can think of precious little else more delicious than a baked jacket potato with a generous hunk of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt. A roast dinner, particularly at this time of the year, is not complete without the glorious roast spuds that you could argue often steal the show! Just remember, as you tuck into your spud, that it is actually far from lowly and we should feature the potato proudly and respectfully on our plates.


Choose … Maris Pipers are ideal for mash, but you may want to try Jersey Royals for boiling.

Cook … Give Eve’s ‘Punchy potato salad’ a whirl, which is great for some of the leftover spuds from Christmas dinner. Find the recipe in her book Be Good to Your Gut.

Buy – The Malle W Trousseu Box, £50.16 is ideal for the discerning spud cook. It features a brush and stainless-steel peeler and masher.

Patatas Bravas

Recipe courtesy of an article in Psychologies Magazine (June 2020) and taken from a recipe book called Big Night In: Delicious Themed Menus to Cook & Eat at Home by Ryland, Peters & Small.

This classic Spanish tapas dish worked beautifully with a selection of other little dishes – frittata, salads, olives and dips – or enjoy on its own as a starter.

Patatas BravasServes : 4

Ingredients :
300g waxy potatoes, peeled
2 tblsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 dried chilli
1 tblsp sherry vinegar
1 x 400g can plum tomatoes
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, to garnish

Bullet logo Boil the potatoes in salted boiling water until just tender. Drain, cool and dice.

Bullet logo Meanwhile, prepare the spicy tomato sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small, heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the shallot and garlic and crumble in the dried chilli. Fry, stirring for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the sherry vinegar and continue to cook for 1 minute until syrupy. Add the canned tomatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and add the smoked paprika.

Bullet logo Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce, uncovered, stirring often to break down the tomatoes, for 10-15 minutes until reduced.

Caramelised Onion and Rosemary Tortilla

Recipe courtesy of The Co-operative Food Magazine.

Onion and rosemary tortillaServes : 6

Cooking time : 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients :
4 large potatoes, peeled
1 dessertspoon olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 dessertspoon caster sugar
1-2 tblsp fresh rosemary
50g gorgonzola or soft blue cheese
8 large eggs

Step One : Heat oven to gas mark 3 / 170oC / fan 150oC.

Step Two : Parboil the potatoes, cool and then slice fairly thinly.

Step Three : Heat the oil and cook the onions over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and cook for another 15 minutes, until the onions are golden and soft.  Stir in the rosemary and cook for another few minutes.

Step Four : Grease a 20cm cake tin.  Beginning with the potatoes, layer with the onions and crumbled cheese, finally finishing with the potato.

Step Five : Beat the eggs, season and pour over layers.  Cook in the oven for 40 minutes to an hour.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with a tuna, red onion, rocket and potato salad.

Tuna, red onion, potato and rocket salad

Recipe courtesy of Co-op Food Magazine.

Tuna and potato salad

Serves : 6 (as a side dish)

Ready in 30 minutes

 Ingredients :
300g fresh tuna steak
1 tsp olive oil
650g baby new potatoes
1 medium red onion (chopped)
1 tblsp capers (optional)
1 bag rocket leaves

Dressing :
1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tblsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

Step One : Heat a griddle or frying pan until hot.  Add a tsp of oil to the pan and then cook the tuna on both sides until done.  Cool a little, then chop into chunks.

Step Two : Boil the potatoes in a separate pan of water, drain and mix in the tuna.

Step Three : Add the chopped onion and capers (if using).  Put all the dressing ingredients into a clean jar and shake until emulsified the add to salad mix.

Step Four : Store in fridge or cool bag until needed.  When ready to eat, toss the rocket leaves into the salad and serve.

Potato and Rosemary Bread

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (March 2013) and taken from “All You Knead is Bread” by Jane Mason.

Potato and Rosemary bread

Makes : 4 loaves

Ingredients :
1kg strong white (bread) flour
5g instant yeast
500ml / 2 cups water
20g salt
3-4 tblsp fresh rosemary needles
Mashed potato – up to about half the volume of the dough

Step One : Put all the ingredients except the mashed potato into a big bowl and mix them together. Tip them out onto the counter and knead well for 10 minutes. Pop the dough back into the bowl, cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Step Two : Pull the dough out of the bowl and gently fold in the potatoes until well-incorporated but not completely blended in. The dough will get sticky, but use a scraper to gather it all up and get it off your hands, and keep going. If you do add any more flour, be sparing with it. Pop it back in the bowl, cover again and allow to rest for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

Step Three : Pull the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Flour your hands and shape each portion into a ball or sausage. Don’t stretch and fold it to form a skin – the dough is too soft for this and it will sink a bit. Place on a prepared baking sheet, flour the tops, cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 1 hour.

Step Four : Preheat the oven to 200oC / Gas Mark 6. Make a few slashes in the tops of the loaves and dust with flour. Bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.

Bean and Sweet Potato Casserole

This dish will be popular even with non-vegetarians.

Serves : 4

Prep time : 30 mins
Cook time : 45 mins

12oz (350g) King Edward potatoes
12oz (350g) sweet potatoes
1 tblsp (15ml) milk
1oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp (15ml) oil
1 parsnip, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 tsp (10ml) fresh thyme leaves
1 tblsp (15ml) chopped fresh parsley
14oz (396g) can chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tblsp (15ml) split red lentils
7oz (200g) butter beans, drained

Step One : Peel the King Edward potatoes and the sweet potatoes, then cut them into chunks. Cook them together in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and mash them, then add the milk and the butter. Season well.

Step Two : Preheat the oven to Mark 4/350oF/180oC. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the parsnip, onion, carrots and leek, until soft. Stir in the herbs and the tomatoes and season to taste. Add the lentils, stir well, then bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Step Three : Stir in the butter beans then turn the mixture into an ovenproof casserole dish. Arrange the mashed potato on the top, then bake in the oven for 14-20 minutes, until golden.

Patatas Bravas

Recipe from Psychologies Magazine and taken from Moorish: Vibrant recipes from the Mediterranean.

The Moorish connection here is the sauce. Originating in Madrid as a simple tomato sauce with lots of chilli flakes (bravas, roughly translated, means fierce), it then made its way around Spain’s regions and picked up its Moorish influence through Andalucia. It’s the ultimate version : spicy, smoky and sharpened with sherry vinegar.

IMG_2030 (2)

Serves : 4

Ingredients :
600g large waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into thick chips
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tblsp hot smoked paprika
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
250g very ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tblsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp freshly picked thyme leaves

Step One : Rinse the potatoes in cold water, then place them in a pan of salted water. Bring to a simmer and partly cook – they should still be a little firm in the centre. Drain and spread the potatoes on a try to cool for at least 1 hour.

Step Two : To make the sauce, heat a glug of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, smoked paprika and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes or until the onion is very soft. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes, then the vinegar. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for an hour or so, until the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking. Season well and stir in the thyme leaves, plus a splash of oil. Remove from the heat.

Step Three : Preheat the oven to 200oC / Gas Mark 6. Tip the potatoes into a roasting tray. Liberally drizzle olive oil over them and toss to coat. Season well. Roast, shaking the tray occasionally, for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and golden brown. Sprinkle the potatoes with sea salt and spoon the bravas sauce on top. Serve with homemade alioli on the side.