Instead of tossing the peels when preparing potatoes for mashing, save them. They make a fun snack that’s crisp and flavorful–and nothing goes to waste!
The first time I roasted what were essentially the mashed potato scraps, I did it as an experiment and had low expectations. Little did I know the crispy bites would vanish from the baking sheet before a pot of water on the stove came to a boil.
Roasted potato peels aren’t particularly pretty, and they certainly aren’t gourmet. They are, however, a reminder that the pieces of veggies we typically discard sometimes have more potential than we give them credit for.
We know that the skins and peels of many fruits and vegetables can be an excellent source of flavor and texture. Interestingly, they are also typically higher in fiber, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals than the flesh of the same fruit or vegetable.
When eating the potato skins, simply be sure to scrub the potatoes well before peeling. I also avoid green peels as well as any eyes or brown spots.
The key to making this humble snack sing is a light coating of olive oil and sufficient seasoning. Use too much oil and the peels will be greasy. Skimp on the salt and the flavor will be unremarkable. Luckily, it’s easy to add an extra spritz of oil if the peels seem dry at the midway point, and you can always add an extra pinch of salt upon serving.
When I have fresh rosemary on hand (fortunately, this hearty backyard herb stands up to frost), I like to mince and add a sprinkle at the end. I find the flavor is fresher and brighter when the herb is added to the potatoes after roasting. A dusting of Parmesan–even a sprinkle in the final few minutes of roasting–offers yet another option.
When making mashed potatoes, you may not want the bother of simultaneously roasting the peels. In this case, soak the peels in cold water and then store in the fridge to prevent discoloration. Soaking will keep the peels fresh for up to four days.
Thicker-skinned Russet potatoes are my favorite, but I’ve used thin-skinned potatoes, too. I haven’t roasted sweet potato peels, but there’s no reason you couldn’t.
Whichever potato variety you choose, these crisp, lightly salted morsels will make you want to make mashed potatoes more often!
Mashed potato recipes:
- Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes
- Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (recipe coming soon)
- Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Make-Ahead Baked Mashed Potatoes
Other ways to use produce scraps:
- Homemade Chicken or Turkey Stock
- Roasted broccoli: You can chop the stems and roast with the florets, although my family loves it when I shred the stems. The thin shards become crispy and add a lovely contrast to the florets…and somehow no one feels like they’re getting the undesirable pieces!
- Another way to repurpose broccoli stems is to shred them and add to My Favorite Broccoli Salad, this Brussels Sprouts Salad, virtually any coleslaw recipe (Cumin Lime Coleslaw is a longtime favorite in our house), or green salad (like Crunch Salad). Additionally, cruciferous vegetables complement one another, so mixing and matching scraps of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage–even bok choy–is generally a safe bet.
- Make Orange Vinegar, a boutique-worthy “green” cleaner, with the peels from oranges or clementines. Or give it a go with peels from grapefruit, limes, or lemons.
- Save the seeds of pumpkins and winter squash for the most snack-worthy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. And for a hint of sweetness, I love these Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds.
- Finally, for a fun project with edible results, you can regrow scallions. The easy instructions can be found in this Favorite Things post.
Have more clever ways to reuse produce scraps? Please add to the comment section below!