We live in an old house with no air conditioning, so in general I have a summertime aversion to all things roasted. (Roasted in my oven, that is. I still love ‘em cooked someplace else.) But with so many red potatoes in our CSA delivery and with six people coming over for dinner, I decided to break the rules. Besides, by breaking that rule, I was actually keeping another more important one. And that is, “When entertaining, keep half the dishes simple.”
I didn’t always follow this rule. Before kids, and even with one kid, I happily cooked fancy everything, appetizer through dessert. But with three kids ages 7, 4, and 2, I can’t keep that up and keep my sanity. Hence the rule about simple food.
For this dinner party, I started with teacups of creamy zucchini soup with sour cream, basil leaves and chili powder for a garnish. An easy recipe, but not exactly simple. To even the score, I needed a quick side dish that would pair well with the marinated flank steak that would go on the grill. That’s where the roasting comes in.
Armed with a sinkful of dirt-covered small red potatoes, I scrubbed them just enough to remove the dirt, then diced them, sprinkled them with olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper, and put them on a cookie sheet in a 425-degree oven. Before serving I tossed them with chopped fresh rosemary. Definitely simple.
Yes, the kitchen was hot that night. But we had a cool sauvignon blanc to start, and when dinner was over we headed out to the patio to finish with Mariah’s marvelous oatmeal-chocolate chip bars with vanilla bean i.c. and discussion of rafting trips and upcoming excursions to the Galapagos (theirs, not ours).
That’s the beauty of simple food. It takes the pressure off entertaining, so you can spend more time with the friends you’ve invited over.
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary
Preheat the oven to 425 (or 450 if you’re short on time!). Start with as many new potatoes as you need; I hesitate to give a number because they vary so much in size. Wash them gently so you don’t tear their skins, then pat them dry. Dice, then drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper and put them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow roasting pan for 35-45 minutes, or until golden and crisp in places. Before serving, chop three large sprigs of rosemary and stir it in. Season with more salt and pepper, as desired, and serve hot. Incidentally, leftover potatoes are excellent in frittatas or with fried eggs.