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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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TIP OF THE DAY: Try Purple Potatoes

Purple Peruvian potatoes, a delight at the
table. Photo by Mona Makela | IST.


Both chefs and nutritionists advise adding color to each meal. Chefs like brightly-colored foods for aesthetics as well as flavor; nutritionists like them for their powerful antioxidants, such as lycopene and anthocyanin.*

It doesn’t get more colorful than red: beets, bell peppers, cherries, chiles, cranberries, raspberries, red graperfruit, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon are alluring to the eye as well as the palate.

The blue-purple group is equally appealing if much smaller, consisting largely of blueberries, blackberries and purple potatoes, also known as purple Peruvian potatoes† and blue potatoes.

Think of the different ways you can combine both shades. The recipe below combines red beets with purple potatoes for a delicious riot of color.



Potatoes originated in Peru. Millennia ago, they grew wild in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Along with many other varieties of potatoes, they were cultivated around 3,000 B.C.E. by the Incas.

Imagine European cuisine without potatoes! But there were none until the Spanish conquistadors reached the shores of Montezuma’s empire (modern-day Mexico) in 1519. Potatoes sailed back to Spain a few years later (see the history of potatoes).

The starch level is medium, so purple Peruvians are an all-purpose potato. They have a creamy texture and are rich in flavor. Try them baked, broiled, fried or mashed to add color and style to your meals. We turn them into a red, white and blue July 4th potato salad (with white potatoes and grape tomatoes); and make purple potato chips as a glamorous garnish to main courses.

Creamy and earthy-tasting (like russet potatoes), some varieties have a nutty flavor. The color is very dramatic, although some varieties become a lighter lavender shade after cooking.

Once a rarity, purple potatoes can now be found markets nationwide. There’s also a purple-fleshed “Okinawan” sweet potato, a staple in Hawaii. Look for it in Asian markets.

*These antioxidants may help with everything from fighting heart disease and prostate cancer to decreasing the risk of stroke and macular degeneration.
†Purple potatoes are now grown around the world.




Salad Ingredients

  • 2 pounds purple potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
  • 1 cup cooked, peeled and diced red beets
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled good quality Parmesan cheese*
    Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Festive purple potato and red beet salad. Photo courtesy U.S. Potato Board.



    1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Steam for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Let cool, then cut into bite-size pieces.

    2. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss with potatoes, beets and onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and chill for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

    3. Just before serving, lightly toss arugula with potatoes. Sprinkle with walnuts and Parmesan.

    Hungry for more?

    Here’s another recipe: Peruvian Potatoes With Feta Sauce. It’s comfort food with a pinch of spice.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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