Unusual Uses for Unusual Potatoes

Peruvian Potato Salad
Potatoes Sauteed with Fuyu Persimmons

Americans who frequent supermarkets are familiar with two or three types of potato. At a good farmers market, you are likely to encounter a dozen or more varieties, including Russian Banana, French Fingerling, German Yellow, Swedish Peanut, Peruvian Purple and Peruvian Red potatoes. Impressed? Well, in the Andes Mountains of South America, the potato’s place of origin, farmers cultivate no fewer than 3,000 varieties. In Peru, potatoes come in pink, white, blue, yellow or brown. Some are round, others are fingerlike; some are as small as grapes, others are bigger than your fist. The textures and flavors vary just as dramatically, from starchy to waxy and from nutty to bitter to sweet. Not surprisingly, the cuisine of Peru offers a wealth of recipes for these unusual potatoes. Perhaps the champion of Peruvian cooking in the United States was Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, a Lima native who was chef of the Ballroom in Manhattan and who died in 1991. One of the recipes below is from one of his books.


heirloom potatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, Sept. 27. 2006

Peruvian Potato Salad [top]

3 pounds blue or purple potatoes, or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
8 to 10 anchovy fillets, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 japaleño peppers, seeded and chopped, or to taste
8 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Boil the potatoes about 20 minutes, until just tender. Drain and place on a rack to cool.

2. Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a cup, add the garlic and crush it into the vinegar with a fork. Allow to steep for 15 minutes.

3. When potatoes have cooled, peel and slice 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

4. Remove garlic from vinegar. Mash anchovies on a plate with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, then mix anchovies with rest of vinegar.

5. Place vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl; whisk together. Stir in jalapeño peppers and scallions. Add sliced potatoes and toss gently. Add mint and parsley and toss again.

Source: The Art of South American Cooking, by Felipe Rojas-Lombardi

Potatoes Sauteed with Fuyu Persimmons [top]

fingerling potatoes
half an onion, coarsely chopped
2 fuyu persimmons
olive oil

1. Place olive oil, lots of butter, and lots of minced garlic in a frying pan.

2. Add fingerling potatoes cut to bite size and one half of a coarsely chopped sweet onion. Add two peeled fuyu persimmons cut into ½” pieces.

3. Saute covered at very low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve at once.

Source: David Little of Little Organic Farms, Tomales, Calif.