Is it acceptable to have a favorite CSA item? A reasonable person would ask, why not? A favorite vegetable is perfectly acceptable.
I was ridiculously excited about the fingerling potatoes that appeared in a recent CSA share. And I felt guilty about it. I wanted to love all of the fruits and vegetables equally. It seems unfair to like eggplant more than zucchini, melon more than onions. Less-loved produce brings to mind unloved toys that sit tangled in wrapping paper on Christmas Day, ignored while The Favorite Toy receives all of the attention.
Fingerlings are among my favorite potatoes, my culinary equivalent of The Favorite Toy. Creamy and rich, they have a dense quality the (sturdy, trustworthy) Russet doesn't share. Rummaging through the refrigerator last night, I stumbled upon a pound of fingerlings I'd set aside and promptly forgotten. Despite the heat wave that grips the east coast — we hit a record high of 101 degrees Fahrenheit — I turned on the oven, brought out my cast iron skillet, and whipped up a summer favorite: smashed potatoes with red onion, arugula, and sherry vinegar.
Adding herbs, arugula leaves, sherry vinegar, and a fruity olive oil to the potatoes soon after they leave the oven is key to the success of this dish. The greens wilt against the warm fingerlings, while the vinegar and oil soak in, adding a depth of flavor that would be lost if the ingredients are combined cold. Crush the potatoes with a masher made for the job, leaving a few clumps. It's far more appealing than a smooth puree (you're not going for silky, just mushed) and I promise, it tastes better that way.
I enjoyed my smashed fingerlings propped in front of the TV with another episode of Big Love. I'm officially addicted. Who knew the lives of polygamists in the Salt Lake City suburbs would make for such great television? I've also officially given up on the teen romance novel Twilight. I started reading it over the weekend, but can't figure out what the hype is about. I don't care about handsome vampire Edward Cullen, his cold skin, or his muscular chest. If only I could get the precious moments of my life back that I wasted on the book.
Smashed Fingerlings with Arugula and Red Onion
1 pound fingerling potatoes, rinsed
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the back of a chef's knife
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
a handful of arugula
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Toss the fingerlings and garlic cloves with a large pinch of kosher salt, a few grindings of the pepper mill, and olive oil. All ingredients should be evenly coated. Place in a 10 to12-inch cast iron skillet or roasting pan (a cookie sheet would also work) and cook for about 25 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a paring knife.
Remove from the oven and toss with freshly chopped parsley. Add fistfuls of cleaned arugula, a hearty splash of sherry vinegar, and moisten with a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil. Add a few slivers of red onion for crunch, and flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.