17 March 2009

Purple Potatoes on Patty's Day

The other day I came across purple potatoes at our grocery store. I know what you may be thinking; it comes as shock to you to see them even in an American store. Imagine my surprise to find them in China. I have only seen evidence of three kinds of potato used in Chinese cooking: the traditional yellow potato for frying and two kinds of sweet potatoes--yellow and orange. These potatoes color attracted me, their novelty was also endearing, so I grabbed a bunch.

They waited patiently until today, St. Patrick's Day of all days. What an apropos day to cook with potatoes. I had cabbage, potatoes, and pork, and wanted a hearty meal to fill us up after a couple days of just noodles and sushi. Figuring I could kill two birds with one stone, I looked up potato and cabbage casseroles on the internet and found a recipe for just the thing that used cheddar cheese between layers of the two par-cooked vegetables.

After peeling and slicing the potatoes, I threw them in boiling water for a few minutes to speed up the cooking time in the oven. They turned the water almost black! I could not believe how strong the coloring was, half expecting the color to fade to a pale blue. I probably could have dyed cloth in the boiling liquid, but it went down the drain.

So I had dark potatoes, sauteed green cabbage, and cheddar cheese--not exactly a winning color combination--but I threw everything in the baking dish anyway and popped it in the oven. Cheese can usually salvage anything, so I wasn't too worried until Turner walked in the door and said the apartment smelled like something nasty. Cabbage has that deceptive odor that, until you know what it is, makes you wrinkle your nose in disgust.

The casserole turned out thoroughly colorful and a nice counterpoint to the pork chops (which ended up a little tough). I wonder if the color in the potatoes is similar to that in blueberries, which acts as a very healthy antioxidant, or something along those lines. Anyway, it was tasty.

May the luck of the Irish be with you ... and purple potatoes too!


  1. you are correct. the purple in the potato is the same as found in blueberries, it is a phytonutrient antioxidant called anthocyanidins.
    happy st patty's day

  2. actually March 16 is St Urho's day (Finnish), that is when St Urho chased all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the grapes and their colors are purple and green, sooooo your hot dish colors were appropriate!!!!!!!!