In Season: One Potato, Two Potato
I have been making gnocchi with my father and grandmother since I was old enough to grasp a fork. This heartfelt memory keeps me cooking food from scratch with local staples. In our Italian family’s traditional recipes, each ingredient has its purpose. Combined, they lend nutritional benefits, flavor and interest to daily meals and encourage me to slow down and savor my food.
Gnocchi are simple dumplings featuring the humble potato, which is one of the top vegetable crops worldwide. A member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, its stems swell underground to produce the starchy tubers we enjoy. Harvesting them in August reminds me of a treasure hunt: I never know just how many I will find, and I am always delighted by the discovery.
Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, which helps our bodies synthesize amino acids. They also contain kukoamines, phytonutrients that, according to the Institute for Food Research, can help to lower blood pressure. Their fiber content comes primarily from the skin. Hence, to gain its benefits, choose local, pesticide-free potatoes, give them a good scrub, and enjoy them with the skin on.
Winter farmers’ markets are wonderful places to see an impressive display of heirloom potatoes. From Banana Fingerling to All Blue, you can mix varieties to see which you prefer. I enjoy roasting fingerlings and mashing gold or red potatoes.
What is your grandparents’ heritage? If you know, take time to research recipes from their country of origin. Perhaps you will find your own ancestral potato preparation.