Yotam Ottolenghi’s potato recipes (2024)

In the nursery rhyme OnePotato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, Four, the number of potatoes keeps going steadily up – which makes sense tome, because they are utterly delicious. But in the real world, salesof potatoes have been going steadily down; we get through 20%fewer spuds now than 10 years ago, and sales have dropped almost 7% in the past three years alone.

There are many reasons for this, but the 2008 credit crunch seems tohave been a turning point. Mindswere suddenly focused on food waste and potatoes, which atthe time were often soldin bags that were way too big toget throughbefore their contents started sprouting, were dropped infavour of rice and dried pasta, with their long shelf lives, unchanging looks and short cookingtime.

Supermarkets responded by selling potatoes in smaller bags (500g or 1kg bags, rather than 3kg or5kg) but it was too little, too late: the switch had already been made inconsumers’ minds. In 2012, this slump was compounded by wet weather, resulting in poor-quality and, due toshort supply, expensivepotatoes.

Since then, a fear of carbohydrates in general has persuaded many people to move away from this foodgroup entirely, which baffles me – not just because I adore potatoes, but because they’re exactly the sort of ingredient that those who espouse alocal/nutrient-rich/plant-based/wholefood/dairy-free/gluten-free/meat-free/fat-free (delete as appropriate) diet should be eating. With the world’s population heading towards 10bn by 2050, potatoes are the kind of crop we should be relying on more while we work out how we’re all going to be fed, not least because potatoes make a lot less demands in terms of space thancereals, on which we base so much of our agriculture.

Who knows what our children’s children will be singing about in future, but I, for one, will carry oncooking with this wonderfully versatile tuber, and do my bit to ensure that the number of potatoes being counted continues to rise.

Harissa and confit garlic roastpotatoes

These make a lovely, spicy change from the traditional Sunday roasties. They’re especially good with spiced roast meat. Serves six to eight.

2 large heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
130g goose or duck fat
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2kg maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks
40g ground semolina
2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightlycrushed
2 tbsp rose harissa
Flaky sea salt

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Put the garlic, fat and herbs in a small ovenproof pan or saucepan for which you have a lid. Cover and roast for 40 minutes, until the garlic is caramelised and soft. Remove from the oven and strain the fat into a large heatproof bowl. Set the garlic and herbs aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes, until they are half-cooked. Drain into a colander, shaking the potatoes about a bit to fluff up the edges, then leave to dry for 10 minutes.

Mix the potatoes, semolina, caraway seeds, harissa and two teaspoons of flaky salt into the bowl of reserved fat, then spread out on alarge oven tray. Roast for 45minutes, turning them once or twice, until golden-brown, then stir in the confit garlic and herbs and roast for 10-15 minutes more, until the potatoes are dark golden-brown and the skins crisp. Serve hot, sprinkled with some extra salt.

Salt cod and caper fishcakes

The saltiness of salt cod varies wildly, so you may find you need to add salt to your fishcake mix (even though my recipe doesn’t call for any): have a taste before frying and make a call. You can also make these with regular cod, or any firm white fish. Makes 12 fishcakes, to serve six.

500g salt cod, soaked in water for 24 hours, and the water changed 4-5 times
2 large baking potatoes
700ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Finely shaved zest of 1 large lemon
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp picked thyme leaves
15g parsley leaves, finely chopped
20g capers, roughly chopped
Black pepper
60g plain flour
2 eggs, whisked
120g panko breadcrumbs, lightly blitzed in a food processor
500ml sunflower oil
3 lemons, halved

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Drain the salt cod from its final bath of water.

Bake the potatoes for an hour, until soft, then set aside to cool a little before peeling and discarding the skins. Put the potato flesh in a large bowl and mash well: you should end up with about 600g.

Put the salt cod in a medium saucepan, pour over the milk and bring to a boil on a medium heat. Turn down to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes, until the fish is soft and starting to flake apart. Lift out the fish (reserve the milk) and, once it’s cool enough to handle, pull off and discard the skin and remove all the bones: you should be left with about 350g of flesh. Flake the fish and mix it into the warm potatoes with 100ml of the cooking milk, the garlic, lemon zest, butter, thyme, parsley, capers and a generous grind of pepper. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 12 cakes about 7cm wide and 3cm thick.

Put the flour in a small bowl, the eggs in a second bowl and the blitzed breadcrumbs in a third. Take one fish cake, roll it in the flour to coat, then transfer it to the egg bowl, coating it all over. Finally cover thoroughly with the breadcrumbs, then transfer to a large plate while you repeat with the remaining cakes.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan on a high flame and, once good and hot, fry three or four of the fishcakes for about a minute, turning them halfway, until golden-brown all over. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel, and repeat with the remaining fishcakes.

Once all the fishcakes are browned, transfer them to an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for five minutes, so they’re hot all the way through. Serve at once, two fishcakes per portion, with a lemon half to squeeze over.

New potatoes with burnt spring onion and peas

Yotam Ottolenghi’s potato recipes (1)

A light blue cheesesuch as dolcelatte would make a nice addition to this springtime dish, butif you do godown that route, don’t add the preserved lemon. This works very well alongside somegrilled lamb orsalmon. Servessix as a side dish.

2 large heads garlic
75ml olive oil
250g spring onions (ie 2 bunches), trimmed but left whole
800g new potatoes, cut into 3cm chunks
Salt and black pepper
200g peas (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
1 small preserved lemon, pips discarded, skin and flesh roughly chopped
20g mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (ie from 1lemon)

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Cut off and discard the top quarter of each garlic bulb to expose the cloves, then put the bulbs cut side up in the centre of a 25cm square of tin foil. Drizzle over two tablespoons of oil, sprinkle over a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, then wrap the foil around the heads. Put the foil parcels on an oven tray and bake for 40 minutes, until the garlic is soft and caramelised, then remove and leave to cool.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s spring salad recipesRead more

While the garlic is cooking, put agriddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Once it’s very hot, grill the spring onions for eight to 10 minutes, turning them regularly, until blackened all over. Transfer to a board to cool slightly, then chop into roughly 3cm-long pieces and put in a large bowl.

Bring a medium saucepan of wellsalted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cook for 10 minutes until tender, then drain.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in alarge frying pan on a high flame, then fry the potatoes with half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper for about 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until golden-brown and crisp. Tip the potatoes and their oil into the spring onion bowl, then add the peas, preserved lemon, mint and zest. Squeeze the garlic out of its skins, add to the bowl with any of the oil, toss to combine and serve warm.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s potato recipes (2024)
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