Thursday, September 17, 2009

Veggie Might: From VM Labs - Miso Mashed Potatoes

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Friday, I went to seen an oral surgeon for a consultation. I left the doctor’s office down two wisdom teeth and up a bolt of gauze. Had I suspected this course of events (and been running less late or less concerned with the doctor seeing clean teeth), I would have eaten breakfast.

Cut to two hours later when my entire mouth is numb and I’m starving—like low-blood sugar, kinda woozy, I-need-food-now starving: Grapefruit juice to the rescue. I chugged about a quart and only a cup or so ran down from the corners of my Novocain-paralyzed mouth.

Since I’ve been traveling and hosting a ‘tween for the last two + weeks, my cupboards have been pretty barren. Looking around the kitchen, I spied a large russet potato. Mashed potatoes would be the perfect way to fill my aching belly via aching jaws. I scrubbed and chopped the potato, threw it in a pot of water, and took a doctor-prescribed painkiller. The anesthesia was wearing off.

Though I was ravenous and in pain, I still wanted something to go in the potatoes—something interesting, I decided. Maybe it was the meds.

The interior of my fridge looked like the shelves of a mad scientist’s laboratory. There seemed to be hundreds of jars and containers, pickling mystery and breeding mayhem. I sorted through the aging leftovers and experiments. Too tired and cranky to defrost vegetable broth, I pulled out a jar of vegetable stock paste and a tub of red miso.

Stock is great for giving potatoes, pasta, and grains a kick without adding the calories and fat of butter; and I keep store-bought stock mix around for emergencies. Plus, this one is low sodium, so, bonus. I added a 1/2 teaspoon to the boiling water. Miso does the same kind of thing, Japanese style.

Once the potato was cooked to my liking, I mashed them up with a fork, water and all, adding a dollop of miso and a few grinds of black pepper to the madness.

I was so hungry, anything would have been amazing during those few first bites. But as the novelty of eating wore off and I started tasting, I noticed the potatoes were quite good: rich and savory, without being heavy. I imagined serving them next to green beans and dolled-up tempeh or seitan at a family meal.

My frankenpotato success was surprising, especially considering the slapdash manner in which this—I hesitate to call it a recipe—came together. Emboldened by my happy experiment...

Bonus Hall of Shame entry: Sunday, I made a second attempt at Mark Bittman’s eggplant gnocchi. The extremeness of the FAIL was so repugnant, so grey and slimy, I won’t even make you look. It tasted okay, perfect for my mush-mouthed needs, but it’s back to the laboratory on that one.

Miso Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2–3

1 large russet potato (approx 12 oz)
Just enough water to cover potatoes (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp vegetable stock paste (or add 1/2 cup of veg stock to water)
1 tbsp red miso
salt and pepper to taste

1) Wash and chop potato. Peel if you like. I prefer skins in my mashed. Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan in the meantime.

2) When the water boils, add stock paste and potato. Stir occasionally and cook uncovered at a low boil until potatoes are soft.

3) Using the cooking water as your liquid, start mashing with your tool of choice. I used a fork.

4) Add miso and keep mashing until the desired consistency is reached. Add a splash of broth/water if necessary. (It wasn’t for me.)

5) Enjoy until your mouth feels better and even after. Goes great with ice cream.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
2 servings: 172 calories, 0.1g fat, $.56
3 servings: 115 calories, .067g fat, $.37

1 large russet potato: 313.5 calories, 0.2g fat, $.75
1/2 tsp vegetable stock paste: 8 calories, 0g fat, $.08
1 tbsp red miso: 22.5 calories, 0g fat, $.27
salt and pepper: negligible calories and fat, $.02
Totals: 344 calories, 0.2g fat, $1.12
Per serving: (totals/2): 172 calories, 0.1g fat, $.56
Per serving: (totals/3): 115 calories, .067g fat, $.37

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