Posts tagged potatoes

peruvian potato salad with pepper black beans

Apparently, there is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant in our hometown, slightly less than a mile from our house.  In a neighborhood with plenty of low- or no-frills taquerias, this sophisticated little spot is more than it seems from the outside.  Sure, it’s not as cheap, but again, in a town that has more than its fair share of Mexican food from various parts of Mexico, there’s astonishingly little food from the rest of Latin America, despite the fact that our immigrants are certainly diverse.

Our gregarious waiter recommended the causa, a popular Peruvian cold potato salad.  Usually, the potato salad is made with vegetable oil, lime juice, and aji amarillo (a spicy local pepper), then spread thinly with mayonnaise and layered with avocado slices and a salad of chilled tuna, chicken, crab, or other protein.  Usually it is accompanied by hard-boiled egg and olives.  In the search for a meatless alternative, I thought some saucy, peppery black beans, though untraditional, would be just the thing.  In lieu of avocado slices, I just used a smear of guacamole to make things simpler.

Peruvian Potato Salad with Pepper Black Beans (4 servings)


For the Potato Salad:

  • 8 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or if you want to get really crazy and alliterative, use purple potatoes!)
  • aji amarillo paste or peppers, to taste (I used 4 minced pickled hot wax peppers, but I also hear that hatch, anaheim, or jalapeno peppers can all be used)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sliced avocado, or 1/2 c. guacamole

For the Black Beans:

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 can of black beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook minced onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat until softened.  Add spices and saute another minute, until fragrant.  Add the black beans and their juices.  Stir until well combined, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Take off the heat before chilling the potatoes.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked through, run through a ricer or food mill (I used the grater on my food processor).  Add peppers, olive oil, lime juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  4. Line ramekins or miniature loaf pans with plastic wrap.  Press potato mixture into the containers and wrap ends of plastic wrap over the top.  Chill until cold, about 30 minutes or so.
  5. Unmold cold potato salad onto plates.  Top with a spoonful of guacamole and spoon the bean mixture over the top.

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Aromatic Orange Curry

I guess to most people this would probably look like an uninspiring bowl of orange goo, but to me it represents one of those most delicious things I’ve ever made.  Yellow curry is something I remember eating from the time I was child: mild, spiced, lightly sweet from the coconut, full of tender onion chunks, creamy potatoes, and sometimes chicken.  I guess this is probably similar to the other curry recipe I recently posted, but somehow different all the same.

It’s essentially a thickened coconut milk and chicken broth sauce flavored by yellow curry powder, and then bolstered by tomato paste and a melange of aromatic spices.  The list of ingredients is a little long, but it’s definitely worth it.  Take the 10 minutes to get everything prepped, and then prop your feet up while it simmers away on the stove…

Aromatic Orange Curry (6 servings)

Serve over rice, with a tangy cucumber salad and naan – sure, it’s carbohydrate heaven that way, but occasionally, live a little!


  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper – it has a little bite this way, but if you really like it spicy, here’s where to make it pop!
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. chickpeas (or 1 lb. cubed chicken breast)
  • 4-8 oz. Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3-6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 lb. potatoes, cubed
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. coconut milk


  1. Whisk all spices together in a small bowl.  Melt butter in olive oil, in a pot or wide saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften.  Stir in spice mixture and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  If using chicken, add and saute 8-10 minutes, or until cooked mostly through at this stage.
  3. Whisk together yogurt and tomato paste in another small bowl.  Add, along with chickpeas, potatoes, broth, and coconut milk, to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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Cajun Chicken

Searching for another set of flavors and methods I could apply equally to chicken and fish, I decided that blackening with Cajun spices was something that would agree with both.  We didn’t have any Cajun spice on hand, and I don’t really like using premixed spice blends, partly because so many of them have chemical ingredients for freshness and de-clumping agents.

So I searched for a recipe online, made some myself, and used it – warning, it is spicy!  I also thought it was just a little bitter, but it could have been because the spice mixture, naturally, burned.  Tasty, but I missed the onion powder (we were out) and I don’ recommend leaving it out.  Unless you don’t like onion, I guess.

Alongside the Cajun chicken/fish, I turned to a staple food in this house, buttermilk mashed potatoes – lower in fat, tangy, buttery, salty, creamy.  Looking for additional vegetation, I whipped up a simple salad of jicama and mandarin oranges.   If you don’t know jicama, I would recommend getting acquainted.  I have often described it as a mix between an apple and a potato – the texture is similar to a raw potato, and the taste a little earthy, but with the crunch and sweetness of the apple.  Wonderful in salads or as a snack on its own.

Cajun Spice Mix (makes about 1/2 c.)

from Serious Eats


  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper (I halved this and it was still pretty spicy)


  1. Mix all ingredients together until well-blended.
  2. To use, lightly coat chicken or fish with spice mix, then cook over medium-high heat in hot oil or butter.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (2 servings)


  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 3/4 c. – 1 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine (or more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash and cube potatoes.  Cover with cold water in a saucepan, salt, bring to a boil, and simmer until potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher, or run them through a ricer.
  3. Add 1/4 c. of the buttermilk and butter or margarine.  Add buttermilk, a little at a time, until to your desired consistency.  Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

Mandarin Orange and Jicama Salad (3-4 servings)


  • small can mandarin oranges
  • 1 small or medium jicama
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper


  • Drain oranges, reserving 2 tbsp. of the juice.  Set aside in a bowl.
  • Peel and dice jicama.  Add to the oranges.
  • In a small bowl, combine reserved juice with white wine vinegar and minced garlic.  Whisk in olive oil and taste for seasoning.  Pour over oranges and jicama.  Chill, if desired.

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