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Simple Meals From Potatoes

Updated on March 17, 2017

Take Care with boiling water

This hub shows you how to boil potatoes. This needs boiling water. Please be very careful when using boiling water.

Fresh New Potatoes

New potatoes freshly bought (or dug from the garden!)
New potatoes freshly bought (or dug from the garden!) | Source

Simple cooking with potatoes

In the Northern Hemisphere, March, April and May are the months when new potatoes will start being imported from warmer areas of the world, such as Cyprus, Malta and Spain. So maybe a reminder of how to cook these delicious vegetables might be useful. Sometimes, what seems easy to others can be very hard for someone who has never done it before or when you don't have much time in your life. We've all been there but sometimes we can't admit to ourselves, or others that we don't know where to start. Many people would like to be able to produce a home-cooked meal for themselves or their family but often, they just don't know where to begin and then, it just seems simpler to buy a carry out or a prepared meal, even though that costs a great deal more.

There's a saying, "Well begun is half done" and simple cooking starts with simple ingredients. For many people, in many parts of the world, the potato is the easiest, cheapest food that will fill hungry tummies. It's also a simple food to cook and extremely versatile. It can be boiled, roasted, chipped, grated, baked, mashed, skin on, skin off - there's almost no end to the different ways you can cook a potato or to the ways you can add it to other foods - soup, salad, hot foods, cold foods, etc.

And if you want to learn how to create a home-cooked meal, a potato can form a major part of a meal all by itself. Even if you don't want to make it a whole meal, just making a start by producing one item that is home prepared and cooked makes a great way to begin preparing your own complete fully home-cooked meals. After all, you don't have to create a FULL meal the very first time you start out, you can produce just one cooked, home-produced item, to go with a ready-meal or other item, to see how it goes without stressing out over preparation and cooking all coming together, especially if you are trying to look after small children at the same time.

New Potatoes after being washed clean
New Potatoes after being washed clean | Source

New Potatoes - easy to prepare

Potatoes really come in two forms - new potatoes and old potatoes. New potatoes are the early crops of the year, the first potatoes formed after the plants' flowers have withered. They grow underground and are called potato tubers. New potatoes are fantastic for boiling to provide a warm, filling, nutritious dish. Many people love a dish just made of boiled new potatoes as a meal. Old potatoes are a later crop. The tubers allowed to grow for longer, so they are sold later in the year.

Some new potatoes are VERY small and may be sold in shops as "baby potatoes", quite often at an inflated price! They are still "new potatoes" and can be cooked exactly the same way. My late mother in law referred to these tiny potatoes as "marlies" - marbles - they were not valued when she was young, as they were not big enough to feed anyone.

On the other hand, my late mother loved the "baby" potatoes, as she had only a very small appetite and these suited her needs.

New potatoes, with any blemishes removed
New potatoes, with any blemishes removed | Source

How to boil a potato

How to boil new potatoes

You will need 1, 2, 3, or 4 new potatoes for each person, depending on the size of the potatoes and the size (and appetite) of the person. Children might only eat one potato, while adults might eat 3 or 4.

Put the chosen number of new potatoes into a bowl and run water over them, to clean them. New potatoes should be quite easy to clean, depending on the soil they were grown in. If there is mud or clay sticking to them, use a nail brush or plastic pot scourer to rub any dirt off. You do NOT need to peel the potatoes, leave the skin on. In new potatoes, the skin is very thin, almost papery plus all the important nutrients in the potato are just beneath the skin, so peeling it off removes some of the nutritional value of the potato. Check the skin for any small bad bits and just cut these out.

Cut the potatoes into pieces of about the same size if necessary
Cut the potatoes into pieces of about the same size if necessary | Source

Make the potato pieces about the same size

If the potatoes are large, you may wish to cut them into smaller pieces to make it quicker for them to cook. Make sure all the pieces are about the same size, or they will cook at different times and some will be ready, when others are still hard.

If you are preparing the potatoes ahead of when you need to cook them, then store them under cold water for a couple of hours. Don't prepare them too far ahead of your cooking time. When you are ready to cook them, put the prepared potatoes in a saucepan and pour boiling water over them, until the water is just above the tops of the potatoes, so they are completely submerged. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn down the heat, so the potatoes are just simmering. (The water is just below boiling point.)

Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the potatoes and bring the pot to the boil again.
Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the potatoes and bring the pot to the boil again. | Source

Cooking time

Potatoes will take ABOUT 20 minutes to cook, depending on size. The potatoes in the pot took about 25 minutes but you need to start testing them, in order to see if they are ready.

Start testing the potatoes to see if they are ready. They are NOT ready if a fork cannot go into them easily
Start testing the potatoes to see if they are ready. They are NOT ready if a fork cannot go into them easily | Source

Testing to see if the potatoes are ready

Start testing the potatoes to see if they are ready. I use a fork but you could use a knife. I try to use one with thin tines (prongs). Just push the fork gently into one of the potatoes. If the fork does not go in easily, then the potatoes are NOT ready.

Potatoes are cooked when the fork goes in easily
Potatoes are cooked when the fork goes in easily | Source

Potatoes are ready

When the fork goes into the potato easily, then they are ready. Don't let them cook any longer, or they will begin to break up. Now it's time to drain off the water from the saucepan. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. This is boiling water! You can serve the potatoes immediately if you want but in Ireland, many people dry off the potatoes by putting the saucepan back onto the stove for a few minutes on a very low heat. I tend to leave just a very little water in the bottom of the saucepan when I put it back on the heat, just so I don't burn the pan (and the potatoes)!

Just let the pan sit on a very low, gentle heat for a couple of minutes. Leave the lid slightly open, to allow the steam to escape.

Saucepan replaced on heat after water has been drained, to allow potatoes to dry a little. Note that the saucepan lid is slightly open to let steam escape
Saucepan replaced on heat after water has been drained, to allow potatoes to dry a little. Note that the saucepan lid is slightly open to let steam escape | Source

Serving Potatoes

Now it's time to serve them out for eating!

Potatoes served out and ready for eating.
Potatoes served out and ready for eating. | Source

Eating potatoes

You can eat these potatoes just as they are. Some people like to add butter and a little salt. New potatoes don't really need anything else, they are lovely just the way they are.

Leftover potatoes

If you have left over new potatoes, you can use them up the next day. You can cut them into slices and fry in a little hot oil, then serve with vinegar and a fried egg for lunch. Or you can cut them into small pieces and toss in salad cream or mayonnaise for a quick potato salad.

Serving potatoes

Do you cook new potatoes?

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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I love potatoes. They're great extenders and are easy to prepare. Love Shakey's mojos.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I had to go and look up "Shakey's Mojos" - that's certainly a different way of using up left over potatoes - they look nice! My grandmother owned a fish and chip shop and she made her own batter, very simply. The mojos would be very simple to make with that. Must try them sometime.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi DreamerMeg, I can eat plates after plates of these. :) A little dash of salt and pepper and they are perfect.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I wouldn't dare eat plates and plates of them! They would stick straight to my waist! LOL

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      gReat Hub. Potatoes are so versatile and most people like them. I like how you kept your directions simple and direct and encouraged people to learn to cook a single item , maybe eventually working up to cooking an entire meal. Very well done. Sharing.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you very much

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      This hub reminded me of student years when I went to a summer camp with group of 30 other people and was ordered to make a mashed potatoes. Potatoes were "young" and it was difficult to peal them so I decided to save time and just to rub them with a sand to get rid of thin peals. I did it well and was definitely pround of myself. But my selfesteem was severely ruined when all the group came back to the camp and tries to eat that potatoes with sand which did not washed out as I expected..... 30 people were hungry and angry about my innovations :) Now it is funny but wasn't funny that time ....

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What a great story Pavlo. Reminds me that in the frontier days of America a lot of families who lived a ways from water (a well, a stream, a fresh lake -- obviously they carried water in pails to drink and cook with) had a unique way of washing dishes. 1) Usually the whole meal (except the buiscuits or cornbread) were cooked in one big pot, 2) everyone scraped their plate clean, 3) the dishwasher, usually the mother scoured the plates and pot out with sand, then wiped the sand off with a dry rag. And today we think we have to have a dishwasher. :)

    • DreamerMeg profile image
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      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      @Pavlo Very funny. I have done a few things like that myself - you learn from your mistakes!

      @phdast7 I have done that with a cooked picnic too. Washing greasy dishes and a frying pan in cold water is no fun!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I love new potatoes just boiled with a little butter and salt. sometimes I sprinkle a little Mrs. Dash to jazz it up a bit. Like you said, they are best that way. I prefer my veggies simple without a lot of stuff. I particularly love these potatoes in the summer and fall. Thanks for a great hub.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
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      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Don't know what "Mrs Dash" is, but butter and salt are great accompaniments to new potatoes. I worked in an old people's home as a summer job long ago when I was a student and was surprised to find that some of the old folks just took a potato and butter for their tea - that was their preferred meal. Thanks very much for reading and commenting. (I just looked up Mrs Dash and see it is salt free seasoning. Don't know that "salt-free" would go down too well round here, LOL)

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

      I love potatoes any which way, but these are some of my favorites. Maybe cause I'm some Irish too? ;-) I do hope you saved the potato water for soup or just drinking - do you have a recipe for that? And Mrs. Dash has several nice spice combos that is good on the potatoes, but sometimes I like them plain. And sometimes raw! Thanks for an interesting read, and an informative hub for some new cooks out there.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      No, I never save the potato water. My husband doesn't like it and he and his mother were born and bred in this part of the world! I did try potato soup on him one time, but he wan't impressed, yet he LOVES potatoes. I have never eaten raw potatoes either! Sounds like a couple of new things to try or try again - our tastes change as we get older. Thank you for your comment.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      I LOVE potatoes, though they have bad press in the US because they're high-glycemic, but I think the problem is more the way they're cooked than the potato itself. In the US, it's rare to find new potatoes labeled that in supermarkets. They're called red, yellow, russet, fingerling, but rarely "new." So I never know if it's a new potato or not. Thank you for an educational read! I do cook with potatoes, but am more likely to put them in soup or roast them. I'll try this way. I look forward to your next hub! By the way, is there a way to contact another hubber outside of the comment section?

    • DreamerMeg profile image
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      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. I think if you click on a hubber's name, you can send them an email

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I love eating boiled potatoes. Sometimes I may have it with a sprinkling of salt, at other times just by themselves.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, I worked in an old people's home many, many years ago and many a day, instead of the cooked meal that the cook had prepared, a lot of the old people would just ask for "potatoes and butter". My husband says that his love of potatoes and butter came from his mother, who enjoyed this as a meal. She was brought up in very poor rural circumstances and potatoes and butter were a very welcome meal then, or even just potatoes by themselves.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      Not a big potato eater myself but my family loves them anyway they're cooked. Boiled potatoes I would eat with butter. Voted up on your hub.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Boiled potatoes and butter are very nice. :) Thanks

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Hello DreamerMeg! Have I got a story to share with you! Great Hub! My grandfather was a potato farmer here in the Northeast USA. At 16 he drove truck from Connecticut to Providence delivering potatoes. I loved helping him pick his garden when I was a child. There was nothing like the taste of a new potato freshly dug out of the earth. One time I was boiling potatoes, and a friend saw me stick a fork in one. They thought I was crazy! I tried to explain that's how you tell they are done! LOL Here potatoes have gotten so expensive lately. A 5 pound bag of russets is $5. I still buy them and each week we try to have boiled, baked or mashed. I can't resist the deliciousness of a potato!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Absolutely NOTHING like the taste of fresh dug, boiled new potatoes. Thanks for visiting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is a wonderful hub on potatoes. You give some good instructions and they are easy to follow. Potatoes are a versatile vegetable and there are so many different ways to serve them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 3 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Nice instructional hub - easy to understand and follow. I wasn't planning on having potatoes for my evening meal before I stopped to read this hub but now, potatoes are on the menu :) Thanks for sharing.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      @suzettenaples and @mythbuster thanks for visiting. There's nothing quite like the humble spud!

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      I love to eat potatoes may it be plain as what you have shown. I sometimes mashed them and put some salt and pepper. Sometimes when I have much time, I usually make a potato salad adding some carrots, cream and some onions. There are plenty of things we can do with potatoes.... Great hub!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks for visiting. Potatoes are very useful and handy.

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 3 years ago from Glasgow

      I love how versatile the potato is! I love to make mash or potato cakes, but I love potato in the jacket as shown above, too!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, potatoes are VERY versatile. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • paradigmsearch profile image

      Person of Interest 3 years ago from USA

      I'm one of those people who want both butter and sour cream on their potatoes. I have learned to live with this.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Just right - you deserve it! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well this comes in handy because our potatoes are ready to dig up, and we have a ton of them. Thanks for the ideas.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      You're welcome, thanks for visiting.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Potatoes have always been a favorite for me. Having grown up on a farm where we grew our own potatoes I guess I just took all of this information for granted.

      Never heard of referring to potatoes as 'old potatoes.' We did talk about the first potatoes of the season, 'new potatoes,' but we generally called the others keepers because they came later in the year and last much better through the winter. Potatoes are indeed very versatile and can be prepared many different ways.

      There are lots of people nowadays who don't know where to start when it comes to cooking. Things I learned without trying as I grew up are major issues for a lot of people today. I have several nieces who never learned to cook. They didn't want to learn for some reason. This article will surly be helpful to people who have changed their minds about cooking.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 2 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thank you for your visit and comment. Yes, potatoes really are versatile!

    • profile image

      Valentina 2 years ago

      hey this may not help very much,,,,i m in Mississippi USA,,,i m planting colarld seed , irish taters,,and late purple hull peas ,,not suitable for pots thou,,,,,,peas will make in 45 days,,,may git 2 pickings ,,if we have a late frost,,,which fer the last few yrs we have,,, hey plant a few carrots ,,radishes,,mustard greens, each in its own pot,,, hey fore you plant a tater,,cut it so as to have at least 2 eyes on each piece,,let it cure fer bout 2 days,,plant with cut side down,,bout 6 inches deep in sandy soil,,,4 inches deep in heavy soil,,,hope this helps,,,bye now,,,u hear;;;;;

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 2 years ago

      Growing your own potatoes gives you a nice fresh crop, and if you plant them late, like July, you can have new potatoes for Christmas!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We are still digging up potatoes...in mid-December. I had to come back to this for some ideas. Thanks, Meg!

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 17 months ago from Northern Ireland

      The potatoes you can get in December can be a welcome addition to Christmas dinner! Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      Coral Levang 15 months ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      I typically stick my potatoes in the microwave now for a baked potato of sorts, but I remember growing up with boiled potatoes, and actually baked potatoes in the oven. Of course they were always the fried potatoes in the cast iron skillet!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 15 months ago

      Boiled one day, fried the next -delicious and no waste. Good food.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 15 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Coral and Road Monkey, thanks for visiting.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 8 months ago from Dubai

      Great post on how to cook potatoes with easy to follow instructions. Potatoes taste great and can be cooked in so many ways.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 8 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, very tasty. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Harvesting once again, and I remembered this article and came back for more new ideas. Thanks and Happy Thursday to you, from Olympia to Ireland.

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 8 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Hope your potatoes have done well this year. Thanks for thinking of checking the hub again.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 7 months ago from Essex, UK

      As you come from Northern ireland Meg, you're probably aware of the humour caused when famous TV chef Delia Smith went into great detail about how to boil an egg. Now you've done the same for 'how to boil a potato' :)

      But absolutely right to do so, because so many people (me for instance) don't know the first thing about preparing potatoes from scratch - hence the reason why I usually buy instant mashed potato or frozen chipped potatoes! The main issue is wariness over the length of time to cook a relatively bulky foodstuff - unlike peas or spaghetti or indeed french fries, you can't just take one out of the pan and give it a taste test, so your advice on cooking time and testing for readiness is particularly valuable.

      Cheers for this guide. Maybe I'll buy some unmashed, unchipped potatoes and give it a try! :) Alun

    • DreamerMeg profile image
      Author

      DreamerMeg 7 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, the basics really are needed.It took me a while to learn that potatoes take about 20 minutes to boil when cut into moderate size but that some types of potatoes, especially the late or "old" potatoes are "hard to boil" in that they can change almost within a minute from "hard" to "overdone", which is when they become almost liquid! On the other hand, THOSE potatoes are often the tastiest. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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