The Little Island Kitchen: New Potatoes

The humble potato has had a rough go of things lately. What was once a staple on dinner plates across Canada has now been consigned by many to the “unhealthy” category of foods—and to me, that’s a great shame. Not only are potatoes full of many essential nutrients, they’re a great, cost-effective ingredient that can be enjoyed in so many ways. And the annual crop of new potatoes are a precious seasonal treat. The secret to potatoes is all down to clever, flavourful preparation.

With their soft, delicate skins and waxy, tender texture, new potatoes are synonymous with the flavours of a PEI summer. Though you can always just boil them up and serve with a bit of butter, they are also perfect with punchy flavours and can even become the star of the show. This month I’m giving you new potatoes in ways that are both familiar and a little different.

There are some foods that are pure nostalgia. My Oma’s German Potato Salad is one of those dishes. Tough as nails, she had a timeless, understated elegance, as head of the family, and creator of so many of our favourite recipes. Her version of German Potato Salad is a bright and zingy take on the classic. Don’t be wary of the vinegar, as that’s what gives the bowl its zippy punch.

My Spanish Tortilla is a vegetarian main course that is perfect for a summer dinner party or picnic. The waxy new potatoes work really well in this dish, which is similar to a crustless quiche, and complement the rich notes of the garlic, onions, and oregano to perfection. Feel free to experiment with toppings by swapping out the peppers for salsa, pesto, or even some olives and crumbled feta. Tortilla is a great base note when you want to play with flavours.

Put the new potato high on your list of local seasonal delicacies, and showcase them centre stage at your next summer gathering.

Oma’s German Potato Salad
Serves 10-12
4 lbs new PEI potatoes
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 big handful parsley
1 tbsp dill (fresh or dried)
Salt and pepper

1. Clean the potatoes of any dirt and cut into bite-sized chunks, all about the same size for even cooking. Add to a large pot of well-salted cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until they are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork but not so much they are falling apart.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and add to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and oil and set aside. Chop the parsley and dill and add to the dressing. Then add about ¼ – ½ tsp salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir until combined.
3. Drain the potatoes well and add to the bowl with the dressing, tossing gently and roughing up the edges a bit. Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste.
4. Serve warm at your next big family barbecue. Yummy.

Words, recipes, and images by Paige Matthie

Spanish Tortilla with Charred Red Peppers
Serves 6-8
4 red peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 lb new PEI potatoes
1 medium onion
6 eggs (ideally local, free range)
1 heaped tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper

1. Thinly slice the potatoes and onion into pieces about half a centimetre thick. Heat a cast iron or oven-safe frying pan (about 10” wide) on medium heat and add 3 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions, potatoes, and peeled garlic cloves and sprinkle with salt. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 25 minutes until everything is gently golden and softened.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your peppers by grilling on a medium high heat over a barbecue or under the broiler in your oven until the skin is charred, turning to get all sides blackened and all the flesh nice and soft (put the peppers on a baking pan if you’re using your oven). Once charred, set them aside to cool enough to handle, then peel the skin off and slice into 1″ pieces. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, and sliced spring onions. Set aside.
3. When your potatoes and onions are cooked, break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a pinch or two of salt, pepper, and oregano. Remove the potato mixture from the pan, pick out the garlic and reserve it to add to the pepper salad, and tip into the egg mix. Scrape out any crispy bits from the pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil, staying on low heat. Gently stir the potatoes to coat in egg and pour into the oiled pan.
4. Cook on a low heat until almost no runny bits are left on top, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, crush the cooked garlic and stir into your pepper salad for an added kick.
5. Once most of the tortilla is cooked, turn on your oven broiler and transfer the whole pan to the middle of the oven to finish cooking, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t brown too much. Remove when the tortilla is a bit puffed up and cooked to a golden finish.
6. Serve warm or cold with the pepper salad on top, or with your own exciting topping!

Words, recipes, and images by Paige Matthie