Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes

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Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. A sprig of optional rosemary adds a little something extra!

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. A sprig of optional rosemary adds a little something extra!

 

 

 

 

 

Do mashed potatoes make infrequent appearances on your dinner plate because they feel like a hassle to make? Or do you steer away from some of the customary ingredients?

This spin on the traditional recipe provides good reason to revisit the classic comfort food. The ingredient list may seem unconventional, but a few unexpected players end up working quite well together.

The end result? Low-effort, light, fluffy, creamy potatoes that taste great. 

But first, for the best possible outcome, I thought I’d answer a short list of mashed potato-related questions that I’ve received over time. 

 

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

What variety of potato is best for mashed potatoes?

  • Depending on the variety, potatoes range from starchy to waxy, and each type has its preferred uses. Starchy potatoes, such as russet and Idaho, are ideal for baked potatoes and fries. Waxy potatoes, like Yukon gold and new potatoes, have more flavor and hold their shape better when cooked. They are perfect for roasted potatoes and potato salad.
  • A 50/50 combination (think half Russets and half Yukon golds) is thought to produce “the best” mashed potatoes. When mashed, the russets contribute a light, fluffy texture and the Yukon golds provide flavor and creamy heft.
  • That said, for added convenience in the following recipe, I often use all Yukon gold potatoes because they need not be peeled. The end result is a slightly more rustic “smashed” potato that still turns out light and delightfully creamy. Feel free to work within these parameters based on personal preference. 

 

Additional tips for making terrific mashed potatoes:

  • This may seem obvious, but wash and scrub the potatoes. They can be dirty.
  • Season the cooking water. As the starches in potatoes warm, they open and absorb water – and flavor if you season the water. When doing a final seasoning with salt later, you may be surprised that you need far less than you’re accustomed to adding.
  • Add the potatoes to cold water and then bring to a boil. Adding the potatoes to boiling water causes the outsides to cook faster than the insides, which makes for a less desirable texture later.
  • There is much debate as to how to mash the potatoes. A stand or handheld blender, or even a food processor, will tend to overwork the spuds and make them gluey. Some people swear by the uniform holes of a ricer or food mill for the smoothest, fluffiest mashed potatoes. For creamy, fuss-free potatoes and fewer dishes to wash, I like to hand mash them.

 

Can I prepare mashed potatoes in advance? 

  • If possible, avoid making your potatoes too far in advance of mealtime, as they do naturally thicken. If you’d like to speed things up, you can wash and chop the potatoes ahead of time and then keep them covered in cold water. This will prevent browning. When ready to cook, drain the water, add fresh water, and proceed with the recipe.
  • If you prefer to fully prepare the potatoes in advance, reserve extra cooking water to use for thinning the potatoes when reheating. Alternatively, if you aren’t concerned about a dairy-free or vegan recipe, you could do this with milk. 
  • If you’d like to keep your potatoes warm for an hour or two and have a large slow cooker, add a few cups of water to the cooker and then place your dish of potatoes in the cooker on low or warm and cover. You’re essentially creating a water bath, and the steam from the surrounding water will help prevent the potatoes from drying out or thickening too much as they wait.

 

A few final details about these dairy-free, smashed potatoes:

  • Don’t fear the garlic. While you may question the use of eight to 10 cloves, the garlic becomes mellower in taste and creamier in texture when simmered with the potatoes. You may actually find that you enjoy more.  
  • You may think that adding water would lead to bland, uninspired, and surely not very creamy potatoes. But adding the starchy potato cooking water, which has been nicely seasoned (it’s why I have you measure the water and salt) does a remarkably good job.
  • If your potatoes are drained well, you may be surprised that you will use three-quarters to all of the reserved cup of liquid. If you don’t use it all, consider saving it to loosen any leftovers. If you prefer stiffer mashed potatoes, you may only use a half cup or so. To be sure, I recommend reserving more than you think you’ll need before draining, since you can’t get it back!
  • Rosemary is optional, and there is no need to buy some for one small sprig. That said, if you happen to have some on hand, the combination of rosemary, olive oil, potatoes, and a hint of saltiness is something special. For added visual appeal, you could add a sprig to the top of the serving bowl or to individual plates upon serving. If you have it, you may as well use it! 
  • Use a decent olive oil. This isn’t the best time for a light, refined, or pure olive oil. (Though it sounds good, “pure” is often a blend of virgin and refined.) That said, the oil doesn’t have to be expensive. As you can see in the photo above the recipe card, I use the everyday blend by California Olive Ranch. I spend about $9.00 for a 500ml bottle. Whatever the brand name, you should be in great shape if you choose a cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil. If the bottle says “from the first cold pressing,” you should be in really great shape. 

 

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

When using waxy potatoes like new or Yukon golds, they need not be peeled-although they can be if preferred. See tips, above, for more potato details.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

For even cooking and best texture and flavor, start the potatoes in cold water and then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a rapid simmer (not quite a full boil).

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

A sprig of fresh rosemary is a lovely but strictly optional addition that subtly complements the flavors of the potatoes, garlic, and olive oil.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

Before you drain the potatoes, remember to reserve a cup of the cooking liquid.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

If you included a sprig of rosemary, remove the stem before proceeding.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

The olive oil gets mashed in first, and then the reserved cooking liquid is added to achieve the desired consistency.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

At this point, you may add additional salt and pepper to taste. Again, if you prefer a smoother end result, you may peel the potatoes before boiling. The skins of waxier potatoes like Yukon golds and new potatoes, however, are thin and, once cooked, I find they blend in rather well.

Light and creamy mashed potatoes can be dairy-free, fuss-free, and utterly delicious. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary for a little something extra! 

Who knew such delicious potatoes could be so simple…and dairy-free?

 

Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes
Yield: about 6 servings
Universally adored for their rich, creamy, buttery, fluffy texture, this recipe delivers in an unexpected way!
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds yellow fleshed potatoes, like Yukon gold, peeled if desired and cut into 1-inch chunks*
  • 8-10 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  •  Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Optional: 1 (6-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
Instructions
  1. Bring 8 cups of water, the potatoes, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and optional rosemary sprig to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook at a brisk simmer (but not a full rolling boiling) until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes from the time a simmer is reached.
  2. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain the potatoes and garlic. Discard the stem from the rosemary, if using. Mash the potatoes and garlic, and then beat in the olive oil (I use my hand masher to sort of whisk and stir) and then thin to desired consistency with the reserved cooking liquid. Check for seasoning – I add a few hearty grinds of the pepper mill and find between ¼ and ½ teaspoon of salt to be plenty, depending on how much cooking liquid I’ve used. Serve immediately.
Notes

*For added ease and a rustic smashed potato, I don’t peel the potatoes, although you may if preferred. Also, Yukon gold potatoes provide good flavor and a creamy heft. If you prize light, fluffy mashed potatoes, use up to 50% russets. While peeling is optional with the thinner-skinned Yukon golds, I recommend peeling thicker-skinned russet potatoes.

A few more things…
While measuring the water in which the potatoes cook may seem unnecessary, it ensures properly salted water that flavors the potatoes while cooking and in a later step. That way the end result is neither too salty nor bland.
Traditionalists may add a pat of butter to the top, and a sprinkle of Parmesan offers a nice extra. That said, we typically enjoy them just as they are.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

  1. Janice

    Love mashed potatoes! Thanks for the helpful tips. My daughter-in-law taught me to add a sweet potato to the regular ones for mashing. Does make them yummy!! Happy Thanksgiving, Ann!

    Reply