Available in many climates and easy to find locally, potatoes are versatile and delicious and the perfect staple this time of year... but did you know that not all potatoes should be treated alike? Different varieties of potatoes are good for different preparations, and there are hundreds of varieties. Be sure to ask your farmer or vendor what the texture of the potato is, where waxy ones are best roasted, while starchy potatoes are great for baking or making homemade fries. Try some of these different varieties with your favorite potato recipes.
Classic Jacket Potatoes: Russet
Classically speaking, it's all about the russet. This starchy potato is a favorite for baking, as they are often sold large and their texture stands up to the classic steak-and-potatoes standby dinner.
Try making jacket potatoes like the English. With enough toppings, this can make a very filling and easy meal. Simply poke your potatoes all over with a fork, wrap in foil and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. A baked potato bar makes for a fun, retro dinner party: set out bowls of shredded local cheese, Greek yogurt and/or sour cream, sliced fresh scallions, crisp cooked bacon, steamed broccoli florets and baked beans, and allow diners to compose their own potato.
Russet potatoes are also great for classic mashed potatoes. Try our Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes for a new twist on a classic.
French-Style Potato Salad: Red Thumb
Although the French do love mayonnaise, they don't put it in their potato salad. French potato salad is dressed with a mustard vinaigrette, and these tiny, waxy potatoes with pretty red skins are perfect for this preparation. Steam your potatoes for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Meanwhile, make a vinaigrette of 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon or country-style grainy mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Toss the potatoes with the vinaigrette while still warm, to allow them to soak up the tangy sauce. This can be served as-is or with crushed cooked bacon or sliced scallions tossed in.
Roasted Potato Surprise: Purple Majesty
This naturally purple potato keeps its color when cooked, which makes it a perfect addition to a roasted vegetable medley. Combine parsnips, carrots, purple majesty potatoes and whole cloves of garlic (still in their skins). Cut all of the vegetables to about the same size as the largest clove of garlic, then toss with olive oil and salt and roast at 450 degrees for half an hour, tossing once. The beautiful combination of colors is sure to please. You can also use them in our recipe for Roasted Potato with Pesto.
These potatoes also make a pretty addition to potato salads, alongside white potatoes or on their own.