It’s not just Irish eyes that smile on the power of the potato

Potatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
(Catharine L. Kaufman)

Here’s a St. Patrick’s Day recipe for roasted fingerlings with green goddess dipping sauce.


In my globetrotting days, I stumbled on a restaurant in Wales that served only potatoes done dozens of ways.

As a die-hard fan, I indulged in multiple dishes, each more sumptuous than the next. I’m not alone in my love affair with the tantalizing tuber, which is grown in 125 countries and all 50 states. The average American scarfs down roughly 30 pounds of the versatile nightshade every year for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even dessert.

Growing potatoes at home starts in the early spring. Whether in a container or in the ground, home-raised root vegetables are easy to manage and are better-tasting than store-bought, according to master gardener Jodi Bay.

March 15, 2023

On the Emerald Isle in the 1800s, the root vegetable was so beloved that the Irish farmed the crop with a single variety for mass planting. Using that dicey monoculture system proved disastrous when that particular potato species was struck by a blight, and the country’s entire crop perished. Over a million people starved to death during the Great Famine, which led the Irish diaspora to America, enriching our culture and cuisine.

On the cusp of St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, and in honor of the nearly 35 million Irish descendants in this nation, let’s celebrate the noble potato.

Potato perks

The precious earth apple once revered by Incans for healing wounds, easing childbirth and marking units of time by measuring how long it took to cook a single spud, is still appreciated for its rich store of nutrients in both the skin
and flesh.

The fat- and gluten-free carb (that’s 80 percent water) contains “resistant starch” that becomes a prebiotic warrior amping up gut health and digestion. It has more fluid-balancing potassium than a banana, more immune-boosting vitamin C than a tomato, and other antioxidants, particularly in the skin and pigmented flesh of certain varieties, to ward off harmful free radicals. You also can bone up with calcium, energize with B6s and knock migraines off their feet with magnesium from the mighty tater.

To keep this low-calorie powerhouse healthy, swap out traditional rich and fatty toppings and mix-ins such as butter, sour cream, crumbled bacon and whole-milk cheeses for slimming ones such as Greek yogurt, olive oil, roasted garlic and low-fat cheeses. Be mindful of portion size and choose boiling, roasting, baking and air-frying over deep-frying.

Skin in the game

At least 200 potato varieties sprout around the world. Here’s a short list of some favorites:

• Russet Burbank: The baked potato king is large and oblong with grainy white flesh and dark brown skin tattooed with a netted pattern. It is the most popular variety on this continent. Russets also hold up well for mashed potatoes and french fries of all manner.

• Reds: Whether mashed, roasted or tossed in salads, they add a nice pop of color. Their creamy flesh absorbs flavors from soups and stews.

• Yukon gold: With a smooth, tan-colored skin surrounding a sweet, buttery flesh, these are sturdy taters that keep their shape whether boiled, baked, grilled, roasted or pan-fried.

• Fingerlings: These crescent-shaped miniatures with low-starch flesh come in varying shades and delicate waxy skins, including the Russian Banana (yellowy flesh), the Purple Pelisse (earthy notes with deep violet anthocyanin-rich flesh) and the Red Thumb (a fluffy, pinkish flesh). Multitasking fingerlings pair equally well with a burger or nicoise salad for a casual lunch, or with a rack of lamb or roasted fowl at an elegant holiday table.

• New potatoes: The diminutive versions of full-size varieties are harvested before the tuber matures. They pack a flavor punch with skin and flesh of red, purple, brown and yellow. The skin roasts to a golden crisp.

• Kennebec: The darling of Maine and top chefs, this versatile, white-fleshed, buff-skinned tuber keeps its shape when cooked and is ideal for soups and stews. It’s particularly delicious as pommes frites (thinly sliced french fries) or roasted Hasselbacks.

Let’s go green

For St. Paddy’s Day, whip up a mouth-watering potato dish bursting with vibrant colors and flavors of spring.

Colcannon, the humble Irish comfort food blending mashed potatoes with sauteed cabbage, can be brightened with toasted kale leaves, pureed celery root, mild spring onions or chives.

Fry a batch of scallion potato pancakes, toss some grilled reds in pesto pasta, blend a light and sassy potato salad with lemon vinaigrette and a briny mixture of green olives, capers and fresh herbs.

Or roast a heap of crisp fingerlings with a green goddess dipping sauce.


Roasted fingerlings


• 2 pounds mixed fingerlings

• 1/2 cup grapeseed oil

• 1 teaspoon each fresh chopped rosemary, flat-leaf parsley, thyme

• 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

• Sea salt and pepper, to taste


• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

• In mixing bowl, whisk oil and seasonings. Toss potatoes until well-coated.

• Bake single-file on cookie sheet until crisp.

Green goddess dipping sauce


• 1 cup Greek or goat yogurt, or sour cream

• 1 ripe avocado

• 1 shallot, minced

• 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

• 4 tablespoons each fresh mint, cilantro, tarragon (your choice)

• Zest and juice from half a Meyer lemon

• 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• Sea salt and pepper, to taste


• Blend ingredients in food processor until smooth. Chill. ◆