Everyone loves spuds, and they’re even better with a makeover.
Potatoes are something we usually have in the pantry, but we're often looking for new ways to serve them. I asked my Twitter followers their favourite ways to cook spuds and was bombarded with great ideas. I usually buy agria because they have a great flavour and are perfect for roasting.
I went to the high country of Victoria recently and took a cooking course at Pizzini Wines. We made gnocchi: pasta made with potato. For a very satisfying mid-week dinner, stir it through your favourite pesto and garnish with good-quality olive oil and parmesan. For an impressive weekend feast, try a slow-cooked ragout.
Gnocchi can be frozen - just allow a few extra minutes cooking time.
1kg floury potatoes
2 free-range egg yolks
50g parmesan, finely grated
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and boil in plenty of salted water for about 30 minutes. Drain well, then return to the pot without water and give them an additional dry out - hold the lid on the pot and give them a shake.
Mash the potatoes extremely well, and push through a ricer if you have one. Otherwise, push the mash through a sieve and into a bowl.
Add the egg yolks and the parmesan and combine well with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and add a bit of flour at a time, continuing to mix as you do. Once all flour is added you should have a soft dough.
Take the dough on to a floured benchtop and divide into four portions. Take one portion and, using both hands, gently roll the ball of dough away from you into a long snake shape, about 2 cm thick. Using a small sharp knife, cut along the dough into pieces approximately 3cm long. Roll each piece gently between your hands to plump it slightly, then give it a gentle press with a fork. Repeat with all the dough.
To cook, drop the gnocchi into a pot of boiling, salted water. Once the gnocchi float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon (this only takes a few minutes). Serve immediately with your favourite pesto.
Harissa potato salad
Serves 5-6 as a side
5-6 medium potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp good-quality harissa paste
2 Tbsp sour cream or natural yoghurt
Large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
Small bunch fresh coriander, optional
Cut the potatoes into chunks and bring to the boil in plenty of salted water. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, then drain well and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and place in a 200C oven. Roast for about 25 minutes until the edges start to crisp.
Slice the red onion very thinly and place in a small bowl and cover with lemon juice. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly as the salad is best prepared warm.
Place potatoes in a bowl and add the harissa, sour cream or yoghurt, and the red onion in lemon juice. Add most of the herbs and gently combine. Garnish with additional herbs. Serve warm, but can also be served cold.
Hasselback potatoes with bacon and smoked cheese
Serves 4-5 as a side
5-6 medium potatoes, cut into halves lengthways
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1 heaped Tbsp sea salt flakes
2-3 rashers streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
100g smoked cheese of your choice (or use a vintage cheddar)
Parsley, for garnish
Sour cream, optional, to serve
Heat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cut the potatoes in halves and place the flat side down. Carefully cut several thin strips down the potato, but do not go all the way to the bottom.
Place in the baking tray and add the butter. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle over the bacon and the cheese. Return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the bacon is crispy. Garnish and serve.