It’s summer! Time to enjoy the long days and fresh produce. Move over, pasta. Move over, old, starchy winter potatoes. While fresh local corn won’t be here for several more weeks, young, tender potatoes are here at our farmers market. Our cool climate, sandy soil, abundant rainfall and pure mountain air are ideal for growing vigorous, top-quality potatoes.
These summer potatoes are a seasonal delicacy, different from those stored all winter long. Freshly dug from a young, growing potato plant, they’re moist, sweet and tasty — a contrast to the dry, starchy spuds we’re familiar with year-round.
With more potassium than a banana and more iron than a 3-ounce hamburger, potatoes are quite nutritious. One serving (about 1/3 pound, 100 calories) provides 45% of the RDA for Vitamin C, 21% of the RDA for potassium, 3 grams of fiber, and 15% of RDA for vitamin B6, with no fat or cholesterol. The potato also contains the antioxidant glutathione, which helps protect against some types of cancer.
This ancient food was first cultivated 7,000 years ago in the South American Andes Mountains. In the mid-16th century, Spanish Conquistadors brought potatoes to Europe. Before long, they became a dietary staple throughout central Europe and Ireland. This gave rise to innumerable potato dishes, from pancakes to soup to salad.
Fresh, small, new potatoes are best when cooked whole, making them easy to prepare. Their skin is so tender that you can skip peeling. They’re best steamed, boiled or roasted, rather than baked or fried. Season them simply with a little salt, butter and fresh herbs like chives, garlic scapes, parsley or dill for a summertime treat.
Summer Potatoes with Chive Blossoms
1 pound new potatoes as small as you can get them
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 quart water
1/2 cup chive blossoms
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
1/2 cup creme fraiche, cultured cream or sour cream
Wash and gently scrub new potatoes. Place in saucepan, cover with water, add salt, bring to a boil and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 10 – 12 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them, as this will spoil their irresistible, delicate flavor. Alternately, steam them in the steamer basket over boiling water.
While potatoes are cooking, chop chive blossoms and parsley. Drain potatoes; add herbs and toss. Transfer to serving plate and stir in creme fraiche.
Summer Potato Skillet with Chard and Peas
I used what I had on hand to make this skillet — peas, chard, and zucchini. It is easily adaptable, using asparagus, green beans, or whatever you have at home.
1 pound summer potatoes
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 or 2 scallions (white and green part)
A half-dozen or more garlic scapes
1 bunch Swiss chard
2 cups freshly shelled peas
1 small zucchini, optional
Broth or water (I used about a cup)
Scrub potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks.
In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter.
Add potatoes; season with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Cook 3 to 5 minutes.
Chop scapes (discard flower bud tip) and scallions. Add to the potatoes, stir, and continue cooking 3 to 4 more minutes.
Slice chard stems and add. Add shelled peas. Add broth or water and simmer until everything is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. If using chard greens, chop and add them in the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with zucchini.
Taste and adjust seasoning. And serve.
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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.