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Those lovely bright red tomatoes and the humble potato are first cousins in the botanical family tree. They don’t particularly like growing next to each other in the garden, and if one gets a blight, it’s much more likely that the other will, too.
For my tomatoes and potatoes this year, the tomatoes got an early blight, which significantly reduced the number of fruit. The potatoes didn’t do so well, either, but I’m not sure if a blight hit them, or they just didn’t like the long stretches without rain.
The only good thing about not having an abundance of potatoes is that I won’t be startled by two-foot long “eyes” staring at me when I reach for some spuds in April or May. The small amount I have harvested won’t last much beyond Christmas.
Although, these close relatives don’t like each other in the garden, they do get along very well in the kitchen. Think soups and stews with tomatoes and potatoes as major ingredients, my great aunt’s simple dish of tomatoes and potatoes cooked together, then thickened with a little flour and salt and pepper, or an easy supper of meat, potatoes, and sliced tomatoes.
With both vegetables now in abundance in our backyard gardens, they never get any tastier.
I almost always leave the skins on the potatoes regardless of how I cook them. That’s where many of the nutrients are. Potatoes, like their cousins, are so versatile. They can be baked, fried, boiled, roasted or mashed. Garlic, dill, parsley and chives are just a few of the flavor enhancers for the simple potato. The flesh of the potato is full of potassium and the skins contain a significant amount of vitamin C. And potatoes by themselves are not laden with calories. They have about 100 calories per medium-sized potato. It’s all the butter and sour cream some of us smother them with that makes them fattening.
Tomatoes look and taste much different than the potato, but they, too, are full of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A. Tomatoes like to be planted next to basil and parsley, and their flavors are boosted by both of these herbs as well as by dill and tarragon. A cup of tomatoes contains only 40 calories, and they best way to eat them is with a couple of shakes of salt and pepper.
My great aunt, who immigrated from Hungary soon after the turn of the 19th century and who passed down the tomato/potato recipe, also combined juicy tomatoes with onions and cabbage for the following vegetable dish.
Aunt Theresa’s Cabbage and Tomatoes (about 4 or 5 generous servings)
1 16-ounce jar home-canned tomatoes or the equivalent in fresh, skinned tomatoes
2 or 3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 large onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the tomatoes, cabbage and onion in a large saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Among the warm potato salad recipes I have tried lately is the following one I discovered when my husband and I took a great trip to Prince Edward Island, where I fell in love with Charlottetown. Since that beautiful island is also a major potato producer, the recipe calls for Prince Edward Island potatoes. However, I think Maine potatoes work just as well.
Dilly Prince Edward Island Potato Salad (4 servings)
3 cups new potatoes with skins, cubed
6 or 7 tablespoons cucumber salad dressing
2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
one-half to 1 cup fresh green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes until tender, then drain. While still hot, stir in the dressing and dill weed.
Cook green beans until crisp-tender. Drain. Stir into the salad. Season with salt and pepper.
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