Seriously old-school mashed potatoes

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Yep, it’s only day 2 of Vegan MoFo and we already have a guest chef: my husband, who’s from Chile, the birthplace of the wild potato (Solanum maglia). According to archaeological studies, human potato consumption dates back 14,000 years in southern Chile, well before the potato was domesticated in neighboring Peru. The earliest potatoes on record were found among plant remains at Monte Verde, an archaeological site recognized as the oldest human settlement in the Americas. Today, per capita potato consumption among Chileans is 112 pounds per year, nearly all of which is served fresh (i.e. not as French fries).

All this is to say that Chileans know their potatoes. My husband is a huge fan and makes mashed potatoes on an almost weekly basis. I had never made them before, as I had mistakenly assumed that all mashed potato recipes required that unholy trinity of dairy products that are off-limits to vegans: cream, butter, and milk. Some recipes even call for cream cheese. Holy cow, that all adds up to a lot of fat.

My husband’s recipe is simple, healthy, and keeps the focus where it should be: on the potato. I hesitate to give exact amounts, as he never measures (and when he does, it’s in kilograms), but here is our best guess. This recipe is really one of those where you eyeball the exact quantities and keep adjusting to taste.

4 pounds of potatoes

2 tablespoons of oil (canola, olive, etc.)

2 tablespoons vegan margarine (or simply, more oil)

Fresh herbs to taste (rosemary or oregano are tasty)

Salt to taste

Cut the potatoes in small chunks (cut them in 4 or 6, depending on size). If they are organic and you don’t mind the skin, keep the skin on. It contains a lot of the nutrients and half of the potato’s fiber. If they are not organic, definitely peel those babies, as potatoes are one of the most heavily-sprayed crops and have a high amount of pesticide residues.

Place the potatoes in a pot and almost cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cook until potatoes are soft – but not quite falling apart – when poked with a fork. Drain thoroughly, then mash by hand, being sure that there are no small chunks left. Add in the oil and/or margarine, herbs, and salt. Serve and enjoy this vegetable that has been gracing human diets for at least 14,000 years.

Quote of the day

“The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”   – Plato (429-347 B.C.E.)

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Our guest chef on a visit to the Canadian Potato Museum in Prince Edward Island.

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