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Everyone feels like they don’t have enough time, and when people don’t have enough time they have to cut activities from their schedules. Unfortunately, for many people one of the first things to go is preparing wholesome meals from “whole food” ingredients. That is, of course, if preparing food from scratch was ever on the schedule! By planning ahead and devoting a chunk of time each week to meal prep, it is possible to eat well throughout the week. Usually you’ll save both time and money in the process! I’m planning to write an e-book about the basics of meal prep to demonstrate how easy and beneficial it is, but in the mean time I’d like to share my “mostly make-ahead” roast potatoes. They’re a great step for anyone who wants to get started with some basic meal prep but who finds actually making days’ worth of food ahead of time a bit daunting!
These roast potatoes are not a 100% make-ahead dish, but they take about half the time of usual smashed potatoes to get on the table because you steam the potatoes ahead of time and then use them throughout the week. Use a steamer basket in a pot or a rice cooker to steam up several servings of potatoes then smash and roast them when they’re needed! Fries and potato chips must give potatoes a bad reputation because potatoes are actually a pretty sensible food choice. In fact, they’re nutritionally very similar to the more popular-seeming sweet potato! They have a similar amount of fiber as a sweet potato and even more potassium, which is an important nutrient. (Here’s a link if you want to know more about potatoes’ nutritional value.)
I usually buy the bags of mini potatoes (my favorite is a ‘medley’ assortment with white, red, and purple potatoes), but you can also hunt through the red or white potato bin for the smallest ones you can find. This recipe works best with potatoes that are 2″ or less at the broadest point, preferably even smaller.
These small potatoes only need to steam for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can either smash and roast them right away or pop the steamed potatoes in the fridge to roast later. If you’re planning to roast them a different day, don’t smash them hot out of the steam basket – wait and smash them right before you’re ready to put them in the oven. After smashing with a glass, measuring cup, or large spoon, sprinkle with olive oil and your favorite seasonings (sea salt, freshly ground pepper, rosemary, and thyme are our usual choices!), and roast for about 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown and crunchy. So tasty!
- Mini potatoes - as many servings as you'd like to prep ahead!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil per 5.3 oz serving of potatoes (using more oil will make for crispier potatoes so feel free to adjust this based on your dietary needs! Using less than 1 teaspoon/serving will be inadequate to crisp the potatoes)
- Seasonings, to taste (salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, etc)
- Steam your potatoes either in a pot fitted with a steamer basket, a microwave steamer, or rice cooker with a steamer basket. The exact amount of time needed will depend on the size of your potatoes, but the mini medley potatoes are generally fully cooked in 20 minutes. The potatoes should be very soft but not splitting.
- Use potatoes immediately or store some/all of them for later use. I like to simply put the steamer basket in the fridge then transfer the potatoes to a container with a lid once they're cool. This prevents condensation in the potatoes' container.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Remove the potatoes from the fridge (or steamer!) and portion out however many you'd like to cook.
- Place the potatoes on a heavy rimmed baking tray (a good baking sheet makes all the difference! I use and love this one) and flatten each one with a measuring cup, glass, large spoon, etc. Each potato should be flattened until it is ½" or less in thickness.
- Drizzle half the olive oil over the potatoes, flip them, and then pour on the other half. Use your fingers, a brush, or the back of a spoon to spread it across the surface of each smashed potato.
- Sprinkle seasonings across the potatoes. Just season to taste and you can add whatever you like! As mentioned above, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, rosemary, and thyme are favorites here. Chives, red pepper, and oregano work well, too, just to name a few!
- Place the tray on the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 12-15 minutes. Carefully flip the potatoes and roast 7-10 minutes more, until the potatoes have become golden brown and crispy on the edges.
- Remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy. =)
If you want a really tasty treat, sprinkle feta on the potatoes once they’re out of the oven. Then they’re even more delicious!
Even though low-carb diets seem quite popular, I’m not a fan. I believe it’s all about timing – eating the right carbs at the right time. Carbs are fuel, and if you’re active your body needs fuel! Yes, there are plenty of junky carbs with little nutritional value available, but if you choose your carbs wisely and select whole, real foods, you’ll end up with nutrient-dense items that are the perfect addition to a healthy diet. I know my readers are smart, awesome people and already know that, but I’ve recently explained the somewhat crazy-looking quantities of brown rice and potatoes (sweet and ‘normal’) I eat to several confused acquaintances. =)
Do you use any make ahead tricks to put dinner on the table more quickly on busy days?