Eat with your fingerlings
As summer temperatures climb high, it’s hard to get excited about a potato—especially a hot potato—but I have fallen for fingerlings. Rich, earthy, nutty, potato-ey flavour wrapped up in a tiny parcel is what makes these spuds the current darlings of the tater world.
They’re small. About the size of a big, fat finger but sometimes as long as a foot. Fingerlings are waxy, moist, yellow-fleshed potatoes that don’t lose their shape in a pot of boiling water. Just toss them in, peel and all.
Unless you are a fancy hotel chef. Despite the labour involved, Robert Sulatycky, executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel always insists on peeled fingerlings. He’s had them on his Studio Café menu all year long and currently relies on imported fingerlings from California.
Move over yukon gold, fingerlings are the “in” potato these days, reports Sulatycky who serves them in a simple (peeled) potato salad beneath a slab of grilled local trout.
“They take a long time to peel, but taste great in a mash,” says Sulatycky. Cook some up for someone you love, he suggests, and spoil them by adding butter, cream and truffles to the mix.
“It’ll send them to heaven,” he says. Or rest their bank account in peace.
Fingerlings are neither cheap nor easy to find. Look for them at upscale produce stores like The Harvest Wagon and expect to pay about three times the price of regular potatoes.
Or grow your own. That’s what chef Wendy Blackwood, director of Loblaws Cooking Schools does. Blackwood’s crop of Banana fingerling potatoes, sits in a trench tucked beside blue and pink-skinned specialty potatoes in her Bathurst and St. Clair backyard garden.She hopes to harvest end of August and mashed potatoes are the last thing on her mind.
“Fingerlings are at their best when you don’t fuss,” she says. “I love to cook them whole, never peeled. They are wonderful in a salad.”
Blackwood gets her potato seeds from Murray Becker of Becker’s Seed Potatoes, in Nippissing , Ontario. Becker says that fingerlings are a wild potato indigenous to Peru. He sells gardening hobbiests two varieties- banana and finger- both well suited to Ontario growing conditions.
Nippissing , Ontario. Becker says that fingerlings are a wild potato indigenous to Peru. He sells gardening hobbiests two varieties- banana and finger- both well suited to Ontario growing conditions.
Fingerlings, due to their small size, are a high-maintenance crop. According to Kevin Marcoux of the Ontario Potato Board there are 43,000 acres of potatoes grown in Ontario.“I’d be surprised if more than 100 acres in Ontario were planted with fingerling potatoes this year,” he says.
Thanks to imports, fingerling fans can still put these cute little taters on the table. Store them in a dark, cool cupboard in a paper bag for up to two weeks.
According to Kevin Marcoux of the Ontario Potato Board there are 43,000 acres of potatoes grown in Ontario.“I’d be surprised if more than 100 acres in Ontario were planted with fingerling potatoes this year,” he says.
Roasted fingerling potato and garlic salad
Fill your home with the sumptuous aroma of potatoes roasting with garlic and rosemary. Once it’s cooled down, dress and serve as a salad.
1 1/2 lb ( 750 g) fingerling potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced red onions
12 black olives
8 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 ° F (200 ° C).
In a shallow baking dish, combine potatoes, garlic cloves, chives and rosemary.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix well.
Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Allow to cool.
When cool enough to handle but still warm, squeeze roasted garlic out of skins into a small bowl and mash with a fork to form a paste.
Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, toss roasted potatoes, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Add dressing and mix well.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
This article was previously published in The Toronto Star.