Robin's Healthy Take: One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four

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I love potatoes! Red, gold, purple, sweet, fingerling, russet. Fall seems like an especially great time to enjoy potato dishes because they partner so well with the other staples of the season (turkey, ham, beef roast). Not only do they round out a dish, their inherent starch helps them soak up sauces and gravies. Here are four of my favorite potato side dishes just in time for the holidays and entertaining (they’re so easy, you might use them on a busy weeknight instead).

The potatoes I used:

Yukon Gold: I love these for fries. They cook up crisp and golden brown. The mayonnaise-based dip I serve with my fry recipe is rich and tangy thanks to roasted red peppers and basil.

Red Potatoes: These are excellent in mashed and “smashed” recipes, especially when paired with bacon and cheddar (like smashed skins!). I used center-cut bacon because it’s got a greater meat-to-fat ratio, but you can also use turkey bacon.

Fingerling Potatoes: This variety is not only adorable, it's easy to work with. No peeling, dicing or slicing – just roast ‘em whole. The curry coating is warm, wonderful and so fragrant, your neighbors will be sniffing at your door.

Sweet Potatoes: Most people think of regular potatoes for the “scalloped” dish but the sweetness from orange-fleshed spuds partners perfectly with tangy parmesan cheese. The dish is kept light by using low-fat milk instead of a heavy cream sauce. I added a little nutmeg too – to bring out the cheese flavor and enhance the sweetness of the potatoes.

Baked Yukon Wedges With Red Pepper Mayo (pictured above)

Serves 4
4 Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 wedges each
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Combine potatoes and oil in a large bowl and toss to coat.  Transfer potatoes to a large baking sheet, in a single layer, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, red peppers and basil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve potatoes with mayo dip on the side.

Curried Fingerling Potatoes with Scallions
Serves 4
2 pounds fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallions

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Rinse fingerling potatoes to remove any debris and pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl, add olive oil and toss to coat. Add curry powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and toss to coat potatoes. Transfer to a large baking sheet, in a single layer, and bake 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are browned and fork-tender. Toss potatoes with scallions just before serving.

Bacon and Cheddar Smashed Red Potatoes

I like to leave the peel on these potatoes, for flavor, texture and color.

Serves 4
4-6 red potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup buttermilk, or more as needed
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices center cut bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan and pour over enough water to cover by 2 inches. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain and return potatoes and garlic to pan. Add buttermilk and cheese and mash until almost smooth (I like to leave some chunks), adding more buttermilk if necessary. Fold in the bacon and parsley and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (1%)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, until smooth. Whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer 1-2 minutes, until sauce thickens. Whisk in nutmeg. Remove from heat and set aside.

Arrange one quarter of sweet potato slices in the bottom of prepared pan, allowing slices to slightly overlap. Top sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the cheese and season with salt and pepper (the cheese is salty, so go easy on the salt). Repeat 2 more times, ending with cheese. Top with remaining sweet potato slices. Pour milk mixture over top and top with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown.

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Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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