Saturday 7 December 2019

Eat, shoots and leaves: Spud luck

Potatoes are our national superfood, so we should make the most of them. Susan Jane Murray knows just how

Susan Jane Murray

The Irish potato -- alongside parsley, blackcurrants and wild salmon -- is our national superfood. I'd add eggs to that list too, but we can hardly claim those as uniquely Irish.

Unless, of course, eggs contain undocumented Celtic DNA, which triggers our menfolk's virility, rugged looks, cracking sense of humour and desire to run around a pitch with an inflated pigskin, and make a hefty professional salary from it. Maybe if we had a marketing department behind our superfoods, a sudden surge in exports would see us out of this recession.

But back to spuds -- their superfood status all depends on how they're cooked. Baking, deep-frying and roasting sadly increase their sugar content, also referred to as their glycemic count. Boiling and steaming is the preferred method of cooking in order to preserve both optimal nutrition and svelte waistlines. Irish-grown potatoes in particular are rich in iodine, a mineral which is essential for smokers and also those suffering with thyroid problems. They also house a surprising amount of vitamin C -- similar to a tomato -- and twice as much potassium as a banana. Potassium is a wonderfully alkalising mineral to help soothe sore those Sunday-morning heads.

The recipe below avails of potatoes' naturally high content of antioxidants and carotenoids, supported with further calcium and chlorophyll from your windowsill parsley. We already know how superbly healthy natural yoghurt and garlic are, not just for our immune systems, but also our arteries. No need for mayo.

Marc Michel, a hallowed organic farmer from Wicklow, has the most delectable full-flavoured potatoes in season right now. They're worth celebrating St Patrick's Day with.

Pollyanna's Potato Salad

This recipe is named after a sherbety character from a children's book who could see something good in any situation. Pure sunshine for the soul. That's how our national veg should be celebrated.

There's an option to add lecithin granules while the potatoes are still hot, amping up this dish's brainpower and cholesterol-fighting faculties. Lecithin is a granular, nutty-tasting soya product, similar in appearance to couscous. I love it. You will too. The bonus is that it brings mighty amounts of brainy phosphatidylcholine and inositol, both known to improve your Sudoku skills! These helpful little compounds also assist with the breakdown of resident fats in the liver as well as enhancing the proper emulsification of fats. Particularly handy for people who are missing their gallbladders or brain cells. This recipe makes two side portions.

You will need:

2 medium yellow-skinned potatoes

2 tablespoons Udo's Oil or your favourite oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lecithin granules (optional)

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 handfuls parsley, roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Scrub the potato skins well, trying not to remove the skin as you do this because it contains all the fibre and delicious chewiness: just clean off the muck. Chop into generous chunks.

Cover the chunks with cold, salted water, bring them to the boil, and cook them until they're just about soft in the centre: 10-15 minutes, depending on size. Check by sticking a fork through one of the chunks. Take off the heat and discard the cooking liquid. Tip the Udo's oil, or whichever oil you're using, the crushed garlic, and the lecithin granules, if you're using them, into your hot, drained potatoes. Keep the potatoes off the heat, but put the lid back on for five minutes. This allows the several flavours to blend together.

Remove the lid, and stir through the natural yoghurt and the chopped parsley. Finish off with a good sprinkling of Maldon sea salt flakes and a couple of turns of your black pepper mill. These spuds are even nicer from the fridge the next day.


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