Cheap as chips, good as gold


HUMBLE SPUDS Comforting, tasty and unprocessed, potatoes are full of healthy goodness for all the family.


Redmond Cabot

There’s been a lot on the radio and in the papers recently about potatoes. How the Irish seem to have fallen out of love with the spud. How millennials don’t like them because they don’t make for sexy Instagram photos. Bord Bia is now spending millions on a campaign to encourage people to think again about potatoes.
There has been bad (and inaccurate) press in the past about potatoes being ‘fattening’. Not true! Though carbohydrate-rich, these are complex carbohydrates, so they take a while to digest, unlike simple carbohydrates, or sugars. Potatoes also contain protein, fat, fibre, iron and vitamin C. Then there’s the flavour and texture – a good potato is like a hug. Comforting in winter, light in summer salads. While I can definitely see the convenience of opening a pack of pasta or rice, spuds are nutritious, tasty and super cheap.
They can be super easy too. The Brunette makes delicious oven chips – she just peels and cuts the spuds, dries them with a clean tea towel (this, she maintains, is the secret), rubs with vegetable oil and pops into the oven at full blast for about 15 minutes. A real treat.

Simple Potato Tomato Bake
I am always on the lookout for quick, easy and satisfying one-pot wonders. If the dish is inexpensive, it’s an additional perk. I’m broke (but happy!) after this long summer holiday of no school and many visitors, so cheap and cheerful suits me.
Lots of good new potatoes are about, and tomato season in in too. I came across this recipe a few years ago by Guardian food writer Anna Jones. In the original recipe, Anna uses Jersey Royals – amazing potatoes but not that easily available here. I’ve found nearly any spud will work fine in this recipe, and it takes just minutes to prepare.
Sweetcorn salad is cheap and convenient, and will work great as a side with this meal. My friend Fay Murphy served a brilliant sweetcorn salad at a recent lunch. She’d bought a version in a Dublin deli and was hooked. Simply char the sweetcorn on a pan, add chilli flakes, cherry tomatoes, fresh coriander, red or spring onion, lots of lime juice, salt and pepper. Voila! Thank you, Fay!

What you need

  • 500g baby onions or regular white onions, chopped into quarters
  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 750g potatoes (just scrubbed if new, otherwise peel)
  • Olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese
  • 1 small lemon, zested
  • A small bunch of basil
  • Sea salt and pepper

What you do
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place your baby onions or quartered onions into a large baking tray. Add the tomatoes. Halve the potatoes and add. Coat with olive oil, season well with sea salt and pepper. Roast for around an hour, turning the veg every 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven when the tomatoes are looking charred. Crumble the feta over the tray, tear the basil leaves and scatter them over the lot, along with the lemon zest. Bake for another 15 minutes till the feta is golden and gorgeous.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.