No matter the kind, please pass the potatoes

potatoes tile / Getty Images
potatoes tile / Getty Images

Many of us are counting carbs these days, but it's hard to say no to potatoes. There's just something about a baked potato with sour cream and butter or scalloped potatoes made in the true French method with cream, Swiss cheese and a hint of garlic that's difficult to resist.

Whenever I'm in a grocery store with a really good produce department, I'm impressed with the wide variety of potato shapes, colors and sizes, with textures ranging from waxy little fingerlings to big, sweet yams. Potatoes are a veritable rainbow of starchy deliciousness that come in a range of colors, including blue, purple, orange, red and white.

At one point in history, potatoes in Ireland were infected with blight and more than 1 million people died from starvation. Today, thankfully, potatoes are plentiful and a good value. But how do you know which potato to use for what?

Here's a potato primer from Blue Apron:

* Multicolored baby potatoes: Use them for decoration by filling a big bowl in the kitchen with the tricolored, tiny round potatoes. There also are very good for making potato salad, but not that great for mashing.

* Purple potatoes are a type of fingerling potato native to South America. They offer more antioxidants than their paler relatives and have an earthy and slightly nutty flavor. Pair them with roasted Brussels sprouts for two delicious, earthy side dishes. Delicious with grilled meats.

* Yukon Golds are an all-purpose potato that you can use in any recipe - roasted, smashed or tossed with a creamy dressing, like in potato salad.

* Baby reds are red on the outside and white as snow when you cut them open. They're very good when you crisp them up - skin and all - and serve them with a skillet steak or pork chops.

* Russet potatoes, the hero of the potato family, can't be beat when you're making fluffy mashed potatoes or crispy potato wedges to go with a juicy burger.

If you have some extra russets, try Tortilla Espanola, the Spanish national dish. Completely unrelated to the Mexican tortilla, the Spanish version essentially resembles a large potato pancake or omelette and keeps well at room temperature for several hours. Serve it hot from the pan, or it tastes wonderful cold, too.

Tortilla Espanola

This Spanish potato omelette makes an excellent snack or light supper served with your meat of choice and a green salad.

1 cup olive oil

4 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced to about 1/8inch-thick

1 large onion, thinly sliced to about 1/8inch-thick

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt, to taste

Parsley, optional

Heat the oil in a heavy, nonstick skillet (seasoned cast iron is best). Add the potato and onion slices, one by one, alternating layers of potatoes and onions. Salt each layer as it is finished. Turn the potatoes often to prevent sticking. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Get out another large bowl, and put a large sieve or colander inside it.

Turn off the heat under the potatoes, and remove the potato mixture with a slotted spoon. Turn the mixture into the sieve and let any excess oil drain into the large bowl. After about 2 minutes, pour the potatoes into the egg mixture, and stir gently with a rubber spatula to coat all the potatoes with the eggs. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour all of the remaining olive from the skillet into the large bowl (the one with the sieve). Reserve the oil.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, making sure that all food particles are removed. Heat 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, and pour in the potato/egg mixture, patting it into a large flat pancake. Cook until the pancake is semi-set and golden brown on one side. Flip the pancake onto a plate, add two more tablespoons of oil to the skillet and slide the pancake in, uncooked side down. Cook until golden brown on the other side. Repeat the flipping procedure 2-3 more times, leaving pancake no longer than 1 minute on each side over the heat. Slide the pancake onto a clean plate and let cool to room temperature. Makes 1 (10-inch) pancake. Cut into wedges, and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired, to serve.

Brainerd Food Pantry Opens

Wednesday is opening day for the new Brainerd Food Pantry at Brainerd United Methodist Church, 4315 Brainerd Road. The pantry, operated by the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, distributes food to those in need. And, according to a news release, the Brainerd area is one of the neediest in town, having shown a significant increase in the need for food since the pandemic began.

The pantry will be modeled after the Red Bank Community Pantry, manned by volunteers and receiving enthusiastic support from residents around the neighborhood. Due to the size of the Brainerd Community - much larger than Red Bank - more volunteers and donations are needed. To do so, log onto

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photo Anne Braly