Chips, hash-browns, baked potatoes, croquettes, mashed potatoes and potato wedges are just some of the many delicious dishes you can make with a potato. So, it's no wonder that this humble little tuber should have a day all to itself to celebrate.
Potato Day, which take place on Wednesday, August 19, pays homage to this versatile vegetable that has been around and filling tummies for centuries!
Potatoes were first cultivated in regions of South America sometime between 5000 and 8000 BC. From that point forward they spread all over the globe to become one of the primary staple crops of many cultures and are now a favourite part of global cuisine, with millions of different forms of preparation to be found in virtually every recipe book.
Today, the potato is the fourth largest food crop worldwide, coming in after rice, wheat and maize. The potato is so nutritious that people can live off it for months at a time without having to supplement their diet with any other foods. What’s more, it is cheap and tasty and forms a vital constituent of many of the world’s favourite foods!
For many, Potato Day is best celebrated by incorporating the noble potato into every dish prepared and eaten on the day. For breakfast, you can’t beat hash browns seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a fried or poached egg. Who can resist a packet of potato crisps to accompany that lunchtime sandwich? And have you ever out them into your sandwich to give it a nice salty crunch? Dinner isn’t complete unless it includes some form of potato with whatever is being dished up - be it baked, boiled, mashed, sautéed or made into a delicious potato salad.
And, if you're Russian, there's nothing like starting and ending the day with a shot or two of vodka which is distilled from - what else - the potato. (The word vodka means “Little Water”, a clear indication of its importance in Russia).
But potato lovers are also becoming more inventive with their recipes and right now, desserts made from potatoes are bang on trend. Mashed potato truffles for example are not only delicious but also simple to make and you need only four ingredients: leftover mash, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and a coating of choice such as cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts or desiccated coconut (or all three!).
To make, place the chocolate chips in a small microwaveable bowl and melt in the microwave at 50% power. When they have melted entirely, stir in the mashed potatoes. Add the vanilla and stir well. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once firm, take tablespoon-sized scoops and roll them into a ball with your hands. Roll in your desired topping, then place on a baking sheet and refrigerate. They will keep in the fridge for a week. Try them - you'll be amazed at how delicious they are.
Another scrumptious potato recipe is Capsicum Culinary Studio's Cape Town based Chef Akhona Swazi's Cheesy Potato Croquettes
Ingredients (makes about 15)
- 800g potatoes, peeled and boiled
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 30g salted butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- 5g Coriander, chopped
- 250g Cheddar cheese
- 30g Parmesan cheese
- 80g All-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
- 300g All-purpose flour
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 500g Bread crumbs (panko)
- Vegetable oil, enough to fill deep fryer
Peel and boil potatoes till soft and set aside to cool. Sauté onions and season with salt and pepper
Add milk, beaten egg yolks, coriander, cheese, sautéed onion and flour to mashed potatoes and combine well
Chill for 30 minutes and then shape into 5cm round balls. Roll in flour, dip in the beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs.
Once complete, place the croquettes in the fridge to set overnight. Deep-fry each croquette until brown on all sides.
Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with a spicy mayo