Of all the world’s vegetables, surely none is more versatile than the potato. Mashed, fried, roasted, baked, it’s a staple of professional chefs and domestic cooks around the world, sharing plates with all manner of protein from Japanese Kobe beef to Aussie snags. Baked potato skins are free from fat, cholesterol and sodium, and are packed with fibre and nutrients. And what summer barbecue would be complete without a delicious potato salad. You can even distil them to make a cracking vodka.
So it’s not surprising that the humble spud should be honoured with its own day – August 19, in fact. According to the website National Today, potatoes were first cultivated in 8000BC by the Incas, and in 1995 the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space – talk about out of this world! And how many of you remember those school science experiments using a potato to power a lightbulb with just a couple of pennies or copper coins, some zinc-plated nails and bits of copper wire?
But enough about science; let’s talk food. Here’s a recipe for baby hasselback potatoes that you’ll be able to whip up in no time – and you don’t even have to wait until National Potato Day to enjoy it.
6 baby dutch potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and cracked pepper
3 tbsp butter, melted
Clove of garlic, minced
Fresh chives, chopped
Preheat oven to 200C
Make crosswise cuts in each potato about 10mm apart, stopping about 10mm from the bottom
Put potatoes in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, tossing to coat
Transfer potatoes to a small baking tray, cut side up, and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the flesh is tender and the skin is crisp
In the meantime, melt the butter and pour into a small bowl with minced garlic, fresh parsley and chives, mixing well. Drizzle evenly over each potato and serve immediately