When we went to Hawaii, I was introduced to these. They serve them often in their restaurants with entrees.
Living up to their royal hue and lineage, purple potatoes have long been considered the food of gods — 7,000 years ago they were reserved for Incan kings in their native Peru. Perhaps the ancients knew there was more to this tuber than its violet skin and flesh because, as we are learning today, it serves up a kingly portion of health benefits.
Its history traces back to the Purple Peruvian, an heirloom fingerling potato. But other purple varieties bred specifically for optimal health benefits are sprouting up today.
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Potatoes supply a wide range of vital nutrients to the diet and are a particularly good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron.
The purple spud's striking pigment is its nutritional crown and glory, courtesy of the antioxidant powerhouse anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple and blue colors of fruits and vegetables. This flavonoid has been shown in studies to possess anti-cancer and heart-protective effects, as well as benefits such as boosting the immune system and protecting against age-related memory loss.
U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis of potato varieties reveals that their content of phenols (powerful plant antioxidants) rivals that of broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts. If you factor in the particular benefits of anthocyanins, the health-promoting benefits of purple potatoes skyrocket. In fact, geneticists are actively crossbreeding potatoes to examine the added health benefits of colored spuds.
Research by the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that potatoes with the darkest colors have more than four times the antioxidant potential of those currently available commercially. One such potato variety, the Purple Majesty, has almost twice the amount of anthocyanins of any other produce. Another new variety, the Purple Pelisse, will be available fall 2011.
Purple potatoes can add a striking flash of royal color — and nutrition — to your favorite potato dish.
Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition. Go to environmentalnutrition.com. Information from the Chicago Tribune.
Purple potatoes are mostly small and oval in shape, and they feature a dark blackish purple skin. Inside the potato the flesh is a bright purple. While it may be a bit out of the ordinary it can be a beautiful visual accent to any dish. Generally when you are picking out a this type of potato you want it to be firm and plump, but you do not want one that shows any sign of deterioration. You do not want to store these in the refrigerator. The extreme cold will alter the interior of the potato structure.
Instead, they will keep longer if they are stored in a cool dark place like a pantry. Be careful not to put them next to onions because the gas that onions emit can actually break down the structure and speed up the decaying process.
The process of cooking these potatoes is not as distinct as you may have thought. It is a bit different than a regular potato.
The only difference is purple potatoes cook much quicker than regular white potatoes.
You can basically: boil them, steam them, bake them, grill them and roast them.
While these kind of potatoes may not be a food that you are familiar with they can be quite a bit of fun to experiment.
Here's a simple recipe:
Purple Passion Herb and Garlic Potatoes
Boil several 2 to 3 pounds of small potatoes till tender, drain. Cut open or in halves.
In a medium size bowl add:
Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with some fresh parsley and 3 cloves minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter. Serve warm.