Given their affordability and versatility, it comes as no surprise that potatoes are a staple in many students’ cooking repertoire. The downside is, of course, that if left too long they begin to sprout, resembling alien-like entities rather than ingredients. If you have a sack of potatoes in your kitchen and are sick of plain baked potatoes, here are a few ways you can spice them up.
Preserved lemon and herb roast potatoes
Save yourself the time of par-boiling by using baby potatoes and quartering them. Roast them in an oven preheated to 180 with a light coating of oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine a teaspoon each of paprika, cumin, and coriander with a bunch of finely chopped fresh herbs. I use parsley and mint, but you could also try coriander or basil. Add in two chopped garlic cloves, some fresh lemon juice, and enough olive oil to make a loose dressing. If you have it, add a quarter of a finely minced preserved lemon. After 45-50 minutes, the potatoes should be crispy. Remove them from the oven, pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.
This is an extremely easy dish to make, and is a great accompaniment to meat or fish. Finely slice five or six potatoes such as roosters (you don’t need to peel them). Layer them in a shallow oven dish. After each layer, sprinkle over some sliced garlic, a few bits of thyme or parsley, a few small pats of butter, and a few teaspoons each of stock and milk. Repeat until the dish is full. Grate over a little parmesan or cheddar, and bake at 180 until bubbling (35-40 minutes). Sprinkle with some chopped parsley, freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food, if a little boring. In order to make them a bit more interesting, you can flavour them with garlic and herbs. Boil and mash your potatoes as usual. In a saucepan, bring a cup of milk (or cream for extra richness) to a simmer with a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme or rosemary, and two cloves of crushed garlic. Take it off the heat and allow it to infuse for up to an hour. Add it to your mashed potatoes with a tablespoon of butter, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast potatoes with peppers and sausage
This is a really easy one-tray dinner if you aren’t keen on lots of washing up. If you use baby potatoes, you won’t need to parboil them which will save you some time. Quarter the potatoes, and put them in a roasting tray with some sliced red and yellow peppers and onions, a few smashed garlic cloves, and some salt and pepper. If you have it, adding some sliced chorizo or sausage is a delicious way to include some protein. Sprinkle over some paprika and cumin for flavour, and roast until the potatoes are crisp and the onions are caramelized. This should take about 45-50 minutes.
These recipes are all extremely easy to make, and precise measurements aren’t really necessary – you can generally eyeball the amount of herbs, spices and seasoning needed. All the above dishes are great accompaniments to meat, fish or vegetable stews, or on their own if you’re looking for something quick and easy. Although simply throwing a few potatoes in the oven to bake before eating with butter may be tempting, these are a few ideas that don’t take much more effort, yet have significantly more exciting results.