Red potatoes are a delicious side dish to accompany your spring meals, particularly Easter Dinner. They are small, easy to find, and somehow seem easier to prepare since you don’t need to peel them completely, nor even cut them, depending on how small you find them.
I recently bought a ten-pound bag for about five dollars, making them a fairly economical side dish. Granted, they are more expensive than your typical russets, but they make for a nice change of pace.
Potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years, first identified as a Peruvian staple. Exploration brought the potato around the globe. Since it’s a member of the nightshade family of plants, along with tomatoes and eggplant, it wa considered to be poisonous and didn’t catch on in Europe until the 1500s.
The round red potato is one of four main potatoes varieties typically available in North America, though this is certainly changing as more of the 100s of varieties of potatoes are being cultivated across the continent. Reds differ from russets mainly in texture. Reds are waxy and can hold up to certain preparations, like boiling better than russets.
And they taste delicious when seasoned with spices and lemon zest and slow roasted in the oven.
In my experience red potatoes tend to have lots of little eyes, so I try to trim most of those away in addition to any blemishes that might be present. You see, my Aunt Alice lived on a potato farm at one time and told me that eyes and green spots could kill ya. It has to do with the toxicity level of solanine in the plant.
Since I am a worrywart, I opt to trim any questionable bits off the potato.
The color of the red potato, however, is one of their great characteristics, so I don’t peel them. And for some reason, my kids don’t mind eating the peel on these, though they balk at peels on other types of potatoes.
So with these spuds, scrub and poke them in the eyes. Then quarter them and toss in a bowl with the seasoned. Splash them about with some light olive oil and roast them slowly in the oven. Stir them every 15 minutes or so, basting them with the seasoned oil that collects at the bottom of the baking pan.
These are delicious served with grilled fish or roast chicken.
Lemon Roasted Potatoes
3 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 teaspoons kosher salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the trimmed and quartered potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, lemon zest, dill weed, paprika, and black pepper. Add the olive oil and stir to distribute the spices and oil amongst all the potatoes. Pour the seasoned potatoes into a baking dish. Roast them in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender and the skins should be crisp.