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