As the Program Manager of Oldways African Heritage & Health Program, I am a lover of all things tuber. The tuber (or root) family boasts the lineup of nutritional and culinary powerhouses such as the sweet potato, celeriac, cassava, taro, burdock, yucca, and many others. Thanks to Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, and his new book Purvian Power Foods, I’ve just met a new one: the purple potato.
Purple potatoes are like poetry – they are as bold as an evening shade of eye shadow, as alluring as a full moon – they are the Ms. Universe of potatoes! Mix them with a plate full of herbs and beets, oranges, or rainbow chard, and you’ve got yourself instant eveningwear! Put a pillow behind your guests’ chairs; they will be falling over. (My brunch guests did this weekend when I served them a version of Manuel Villacorta’s scalloped potatoes featuring purple potatoes!)
Fairly new in America, but a staple in the traditional Peruvian diet, this type of potato packs all the nutrition of other kinds of potatoes, like complex carbohydrates, folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium. They also taste just like a white potato (not to worry — there’s no hint of grape or purple essence). But these little purple gems do contain two to three times the antioxidants of yellow or white potatoes, according to Villacorta.
I got to meet Manuel at this year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston. His book Peruvian Power Foods shares the hidden treasures of traditional Peruvian cooking. Much like olive oil in the Mediterranean Diet, these foods have been revered for their delicious exotic ﬂavors for thousands of years; and, their incredible nutritional and medicinal beneﬁts are now being acknowledged. Manuel oﬀers an in-depth look at 18 of these traditional foods and ﬁts 101 recipes into this fresh, vibrantly visual book.
We found ours at our favorite produce dealer, Central Market in Texas. Try to ﬁnd them at your grocery store; if they don’t have them, your local farmers market should. If they don’t, try this recipe with a mixture of yellow and red skinned potatoes (keep those skins on—that’s where the lion’s share of nutrients are!). Even though the colorfulness will be turned down, the taste will be the same.
Tri-Colored Scalloped Potatoes
By Manuel Villacorta, from his book Peruvian Power Foods
This dish uses simple ingredients but delivers impressive results. Once sliced, the thinly layered potatoes in three colors creates a beautiful dish with delicate texture. (*I used fresh dill and leeks as well, in my dish pictured below!)
3 medium red bliss potatoes
3 medium yellow potatoes
3 medium purple potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the potatoes and thinly slice with a mandolin or sharp knife. Lightly coat a 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
Layer the potatoes in the baking dish, mixing the colors together. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the rosemary and salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.