Today is not your average day. Oh no!
Today is the day a potato changed lives.
Before we get to the story, let’s first take a moment to appreciate the humble spud.
A sturdy and versatile staple, these bad boys can be baked, boiled, roasted, röstied, smashed, mashed, hassle-backed, or dauphinoised; not to mention the array of fries on the scene – we’ve got thick cut, thin cut, crinkle, skinny, French, cheesy, gravy and of course, the trendy gastro-pub phenomenon that is the triple-cooked chip. That’s right people, deep fat fried THRICE!
Anyway, back to the story. It’s easy to see how the potato is a favourite among many, including me. But if I’ve learnt anything from today it’s that I take my love of food for granted. Not everyone can eat quite as easily as I can, and sadly, lots of people experience a real sense of fear, anxiety and guilt when it comes to what’s on their plate (or not, as the case may be).
Today, as I hurried out of the office kitchen with a tuppaware stuffed to the brim of this leek and potato salad, excited to pop myself down at my desk and dig in, I bumped into a friend.
No, I’m kidding. Scroll down to see what actually happened. And take a breath, it’s totes emosh!
Said friend, who struggles with finding food they enjoy eating, had a bit of a nosy at my potatoes (not a euphemism) and muttered a little ‘mmm’. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to talk about and share my food and offered them one of the salsa verde covered spuds. This was a big deal for my friend, as they have a VERY limited list of foods they are happy to eat, and potatoes covered in lemony salsa verde is definitely not one of them! I could see the flash of excitement and courage in their eyes at the prospect of breaking a 17 year old habit, but the unmistakeable anxiety was also there. I decided to pop a taster on a little plate and left it with them – no pressure to eat it but the option to try it if desired.
To cut a long story short, they LOVED it. I was so unbelievably proud of them for trying something new and in this case incredibly scary and so were they. In fact it was so overwhelming that they came to me later that afternoon in floods of tears and really opened up about their anxiety and fear surrounding food. We had a cuddle and decided work together to see what else is out there that my friend can try. First stop, a trip to the Whole Foods market to see all the gorgeous fresh produce!
So while this recipe is made for and to be enjoyed by everyone, it’s first and foremost dedicated to my brave and inspiring friend (they know who they are). Loads of love.
TO THE RECIPE! (Oh, there are some leeks in there too.)
- 400g baby potatoes, cut in half or quarters, depending on size
- 1 leek, chopped into 1cm rounds, see photo above*
- Small handful of mint, chopped
- Rind of 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the salsa verde
- Bunch of parsley
- Bunch of basil
- Handful of mint
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 6-8 tbsp olive oil
Serves 2 as a Lunchbox main or 4 as a side
*Don’t discard the green ends of the leeks – either chop them up, wash them and add them to the pan with the rounds, or alternatively pop them in the freezer for later – just toss them into stir fries and stews straight from frozen, or pan-fry as a veggie side.
You could swap the salsa verde for:
Pesto | Chimichurri | Tomato and garlic sauce
Avocado | Greek yoghurt | Cheese – feta, mozzarella
Meat and fish options
Crispy bacon or lardons | White fish, like cod, sea bass, sea bream | Steak
- Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Once done, drain and set aside.
- Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and, once hot, add the leeks, spreading them out to ensure each one is laid flat on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes on one side until they start to soften and char. Then flip and cook on the other side for a further 5-10 minutes, sprinkling with the chopped mint and lemon rind, plus some more salt and pepper.
- While the leeks and potatoes are cooking, make the salsa verde. Chuck everything except the oil into a food processor and blitz. Slowly add the oil until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Pop the potatoes into a tuppaware, top with the leeks and drizzle generously with salsa verde.