The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: The Inconvenient Spud

Pity the poor potato. Considered by some, these days, to be an inconvenient choice for dinner because you have to, y’know, peel them and they take longer to cook than your average packet of pasta or rice. Shocking though it seems to me, it appears that the slow and lumbering spud is no match for the likes of speedy spaghetti in the modern-day clash of the carbs. While I might rail against the reductive attitude to food and cooking that is implied by such thinking, I am not, I expect, going to effect any great sweeping changes in societal behaviour by doing so (well, not yet anyway). Meanwhile, it remains a very real challenge for those who grow and sell potatoes to address.

Keogh’s of North County Dublin have, for example, been tackling the issue with their ‘Easy Cook’ line of steam-in-the-bag microwaveable potatoes (though I still admit that when I first saw them, I was, in my own potato purist way, given to muttering: ‘but aren’t potatoes easy to cook anyway?’). As reported in my Sunday Times piece a few weeks back, Keogh’s Easy Cook spuds are proving a popular option for shoppers, and others in the potato industry here are getting in on the act too. Sam Dennigan’s have recently launched ‘Spuddies’ – their version of the 7-minute bag of microwaveable baby potatoes – and Sam Dennigan Jr. himself called to deliver some samples to me recently.

Sam Dennigan Spuddies

Sam Dennigan's Spuddies: one of the new breed of convenience spuds

While I still hold that potatoes are easy to cook as they are, it’s hard to deny the sheer handiness of the microwaveable bag, and if it prompts the modern shopper to add potatoes to baskets which were previously spudless, then that’s a good thing. It also seemed only right and proper to incorporate my sample spuddies into a very quick, simple and (yes) convenient meal.

Baby Potatoes with Spinach and Cashel Blue

Baby potatoes with spinach

So here’s what I made with my spuddies. Since convenience was the name of the game, I wanted to make something where the rest of the dish could be put together in give-or-take the amount of time it would take you to cook the potatoes (whether you go for all out, microwaveable convenience or go the conventional steaming route, which, especially in the case of baby potatoes, I still say is a pretty convenient way to go). You can think of this as a warm salad, equally good on its own or a side-dish, or you can make a meal of it along with some scrambled or poached eggs.

You’ll need:

  • 400g baby potatoes
  • vegetable oil for frying (olive oil or rapeseed)
  • half a small red onion (about 50g), very finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely slivered
  • 100g baby spinach leaves, washed and finely sliced
  • 25g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 25g cashel blue (or other blue cheese), roughly chopped
  • coarse salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

You’ll also need:

  • A large frying pan

The Steps:

  • Scrub the baby potatoes and steam them for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender (if using a microwavable bag of baby potatoes, follow the instructions on the packet).
  • While the potatoes are cooking, place a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil to coat the pan.
  • Add the sliced red onion and fry for around 5-7 minutes, until softened and starting to brown a little in places. Add the slivered garlic and stir and fry for about another minute.
  • Add the spinach to the pan. Stir and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped walnuts and the blue cheese. Season to taste with coarse salt and black pepper.
  • When the potatoes are cooked, slice thickly, stir into the spinach mixture and serve, either on its own or perhaps make a meal of it along with some scrambled or poached eggs.

The Variations:

  • You could certainly, I reckon, add some fried mushrooms to the mix here, or some cherry tomatoes, and perhaps some chilli flakes if you’d like a bit of heat.

The Results:

  • Makes 2 servings (or perhaps 3 as a side-dish)

9 Comments

  1. Hello. Potatoes are good for health. All good foods must be eaten in moderation. Excess calories must be avoided. Junk foods must be avoided at all cost. Junk foods destroy a person’s health and mind. Excess body weight must be shed. We must all lead a happy and healthy life. Thanks.

  2. Daily Spud

    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    You certainly hold strong views Gautam – I agree (naturally) that potatoes are good for you, though I subscribe to the view that, really, there are no good and bad foods, just good and bad diets, and the principle of moderation is a good one to apply to whatever we eat. As for dictating that one *must* avoid calories, shed weight or lead a happy life, I don’t think that you can really dictate that to anyone. Advise or suggest perhaps, but not dictate.

  3. I think potatoes are the easiest thing to cook on the planet, and as I love potato skins (as in the skins, not the stuffed kind) they’re even easier for me. For the little ones, I split in half, toss with olive oil and sea salt and roast ’em in the oven. For the bigger ones, wrap in foil and roast. Listen to me going on about spuds as if I was Irish! :) To be honest, I’ve probably eaten more potatoes in the last two years than I have in the previous five. Ah, the magic of Irish spuds!

  4. You know Clare, at this rate and with that love of spuds, I think you could end up marrying an Irish man. Am I right or am I right? :D

  5. I am Distrustful of my microwave and only use it for disinfecting my sponges. I know; I can’t help it! ;) Anyway, I agree w/you that spuds are so easy to cook. If I don’t have a lot of time, I just cut them Very Small so that they cook quickly. And then I would make this–yummy idea, as usual, DS. Love the blue cheese and walnuts. Classic. You are very smart:)

  6. You too, Jenni, are Very Smart – how come I never thought of disinfecting my sponges in the microwave? :D

  7. I sometimes cook potatoes in the microwave myself. I guess I should have sold the idea and made a fortune. GREG

  8. Me too – oh the fortunes we could have made Greg! :D

  9. This is one of my favorite dishes of all time!

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