The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family (also known as the nightshades).The potato is native to the Andes Mountains in Chile, Peru and Bolivia. In this region more than 3000 varieties of potatoes have been cultivated for food. The Incas and their ancestors have been growing potatoes for more than 3000 years. Potatoes were first brought to Europe in the early 16th century by Spanish tourists, but did not become a dietary staple until the 18th century. By the early 1800’s, most of the people in Ireland were entirely dependent on potatoes for food. In 1845 and 1846 a fungus disease wiped out the entire potato crop in Ireland, and nearly one-half the population starved to death, while a million survivors left for other parts of the world.
Solanum Tuberosum is an erect, clambering succulent herb to more than 1 m tall, the stems sometimes quadrangular or even winged, with tuberiferous stalens just at or below the soil surface. Leaves alternate, short-stalked, 10-30 cm long, 5-15 cm wide, the leaflets opposite or alternate, very unequal in size and shape, the larger often petiolulate, ovate to ovate-oblong, 2-10 cm long, 1-6 cm wide, the smaller more blunt apically, broadly ovate to orbicular, 2-15 mm in diameter, thinly to densely pubescent. Flowers white or blue, pedunculate in lateral, many flowered cymes, the hairy peduncle 5-15 cm long, the jointed hairy pedicels 3-35 mm long. Calyx campanulate, 5-lobate, 1.5-2 cm in diameter, the lobes acute or acuminate. Corolla twice as long as calyx, 3.5-4 cm in diameter. Anthers free, erect, poricidal, yellow. Fruit a globose 2-celled berry, many-seeded, yellowish green.
Tubers are one of the temperate staples, eaten boiled, baked, fried, stewed, etc. Surplus potatoes are used for fodder and alcohol, and chemurgic applications. The flour can be used for baking. Potato starch is used to determine the diastatic value of starch. Boiled with weak sulphuric acid, potato starch is changed into glucose, fermented into alcohol, to yield “British Brandy.” Ripe potato juice is excellent for cleaning cottons, silks, and woolens.
Today the potato is the most valuable crop in the US, and, behind rice, wheat, and corn, the fourth most important food crop in the world. The Russians lead the world in per capita potato consumption, and 90% of world potato production is in Russia and Europe. Here I share “Causa Rellena” the easy recipe you may want to try at home. This versatile Peruvian potato dish makes a wonderful light meal. Causa Rellena is a layered dish that’s made of potato and stuffed with any number of things; chicken is particularly common. The word Causa takes its name from the old Incan Quechua word kausaq, which means “giver of life,” another name for the potato. Rellena is the Spanish word for “stuffed.” In Peru, Causa is usually made with the flavorful Peruvian potatoes, Papa Amarilla (yellow potato).
2 lbs yellow (Yukon gold) potatoes
¼ cup Lime or lemon juice
3 tablespoons Aji amarillos, chile paste (optional)
½ cup Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups filling (sautéed onions mixed with mayonnaise)
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
7 Pitted black olives
Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender and cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them. Put the potatoes through a ricer or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in the oil, pepper paste if using, lime or lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Line a casserole dish or baking pan with plastic wrap, pressing it down to fit the dish. Spread half the potatoes into the bottom of the dish and smooth out.
Spread the filling evenly over the potatoes, alternate layers of avocado and tomato. Spread the remaining potatoes evenly over the filling. Chill thoroughly. Lay a serving platter upside-down over the top of the potato dish. Using both hands, flip the dish and platter over, letting the causa fall onto the platter. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Garnish the causa decoratively with hard-boiled eggs sliced into rounds and olives and, if you like, a Huancaina sauce. Cut diagonally and serve!
12 ounces feta or ricotta cheese; 5 fresh, chopped ajís amarillos peppers; 1/2 cup milk; 2 cloves garlic; 1/2 cup oil; salt and pepper. Put the cheese, peppers, milk and garlic into a blender and puree. With the blender still running, drizzle in the oil until the sauce has a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: cooked the potatoes whole, with their skins on, and then add a dose of acid – lemon juice or vinegar – to retain and boost their color.
1lb purple potatoes
2 oz olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boil the potatoes in well salted boiling water until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Peel them while still warm. In a large bowl, smash them with a fork or potato masher, leaving chunks. In a small pan gently heat the olive oil with the butter, crushed garlic, shallots and rosemary until all the flavors are fused together.
When ready to serve, heat the crushed potatoes, add the oil and rosemary infusion, taste, adjust the seasoning and finish with the parsley.
And as I always say… enjoy! 🙂