Potato, po-tah-to, however you say it, these little beauties are damn delicious! Although the ancient Incas were cultivating this humble tuber thousand of years ago, they were not readily accepted by the Europeans. A member of the nightshade family, like their cousins the tomato and eggplant, they were thought to be poisonous. It is Sir Walter Raleigh who is credited for debunking the poisonous potato superstition when he planted them on his property in Ireland back in the 16th century. The Irish apparently knew a good thing when they tasted it and began growing and eating them is great quantities. Today, hundreds of varieties are cultivated around the world. Perhaps the most widely recognized in the United States is the Russet. also called old, baking and Idaho potatoes. Its low moisture and high starch content make it an excellent choice for baking, mashing and frying. At one time it was practically the only choice in many produce departments but in recent years it has had to step aside to make way for the gaining popularity of red, gold and purple varieties. Available in many sizes, they all have their place.
For the recipe today I chose fingerlings which are small and long about the size of your thumb. The bag I purchased contained a selection of red-skinned , Yukon golds and purple. I chose not to use the purple ones because of their starchiness and dense texture. The other two have a much creamier flesh with a moist, almost succulent texture. These were my preference but you feel free to use whatever you like best. The main thing is they should be small and similar in size to ensure even cooking. “Baby-sized” or new potatoes are very popular now and should not be difficult to find.
Aside from its roasted goodness, the beauty of this recipe is its versatility. It serves well as a side dish or an appetizer. The small bite-sized vegetables are both fork and finger friendly and can be topped in any number of ways to change them up a bit. It just may become a “go to” in your repertoire.
Here is how it goes down.
Roasted Smashed Fingerling Potatoes w/ Parmesan
Serves 4-6 as a side
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
2 lbs. fingerling potatoes or small reds
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-6 T extra virgin olive oil
6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only (or rosemary, chopped fine)
½ c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 ½ T fresh parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water that is generously seasoned with salt. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool for about 10 minutes.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and drizzle each with 1-2T of the oil.
- Arrange the potatoes on the sheets and gently flatten them with the palm of your hand keeping them about ½ -inch thick.
- Brush each one with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each with the thyme.
- Roast, turning them halfway through the baking time until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Mix the Parmesan with the chopped parsley and top each potato with the mixture.
- Return to the oven and bake just long enough to melt the cheese. Serve hot.
The rich, sharp flavor of the Parmesan and bright freshness of the parsley pair well as a topping for the creamy bites served on my table as a side with roasted chicken. For an appetizer, I was thinking of smoked salmon with a dollop of crème fraiche and fresh dill or simply sour crème with chopped chives or crumbled bacon and blue cheese with eggs for breakfast or brunch. The possibilities are endless so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Regardless of what you choose for toppings, I promise, if you are a fan of the potato, fingers or fork, you will love these crispy bites. Hopefully, you find time to make them soon as it is a great way to spread the love, one dish at a time. Meanwhile, the sun is shining, herbs, veggies and flowers are growing in my garden with great promise of summer creations. I am a happy girl. Love is alive in my kitchen and I send it to yours. Until next time, Jeanne