University of Florida sports fans, like their large reptile mascots, never hibernate. Wildlife behaviorists confirm that Gators and their supporters are active year ’round, which means they need to eat.
While we eschew artificial food coloring, we admit to a fascination with fruits and vegetables whose unusual but natural hues might scare off the the bench-warmers and Junior Varsity.
Anthocyanins, responsible for the color of hydrangeas and red autumn leaves, also give the blues to foods like heirloom varieties of corn and potatoes. And though they’ve been available for years, in farmers’ markets and as blue potato chips, antioxidant-laden blue potatoes have not been promoted with the fervor of red wine and pomegranates.
It’s a mystery to us how Gators fans have overlooked blue potatoes’ potential to boost not only their immune systems but also the profile of pre-game provender. Pairing the orange carotinoids of sweet potatoes or yams with blue potatoes makes a salad guaranteed to light-up up any tailgate party, if not the entire parking-lot.
Cooks of the Gator Nation, flaunt your colors!
Gator-Tator ® Salad
1 lb Small blue potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1 lb Small red-skin potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1 Medium sweet potato or yam (5-6 oz.)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Lime (rind and juice)
3 Tbs coarsely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Scallion (including green top), finely chopped
Wash the potatoes and yam. Place in a 3 quart saucepan and fill with enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Test a potato with the point of a sharp paring knife. The potato should feel slightly harder at the center. Drain the potatoes and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Rinse the lime; grate its rind and reserve. Juice the lime into a 2-quart non-reactive bowl. Add the olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl. (Start with this small amount of salt so as not to obscure the delicate flavor of the sweet potato.)
You may leave the blue potatoes in their skins, but for optimum color contrast, slip the skins from the sweet potato and red potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks and gently combine them in the bowl with the dressing.
Just before serving, gently stir the chopped scallion into the potatoes. Taste for salt.
Serves 4-6 (recipe may be scaled up)
Because we recognize that Gainesville and the far-flung communities of the Gator Nation are multicultural, we offer the following variations.
Gator-Tator ®Salad goes ethnic…
Use the recipe above as your guideline for:
Italian: Substitute lemon rind and juice for the lime. Add 2 Tbs capers and 1 small clove of minced garlic.
German: Omit the lime; substitute 2-3 Tbs cider vinegar. Add 2 strips of cooked, crumbled bacon, 1 medium onion ( sliced and sautéed), and 2-3 Tbs freshly snipped dill.)
French: Substitute lemon rind and juice for the lime. Add 1 Tbs prepared Dijon mustard. 2 tsp snipped fresh tarragon, 1 Tbs freshly snipped chives.
Greek / Middle Eastern: Substitute lemon rind and juice for the lime. Add 2 Tbs freshly snipped mint, 1/2 cup pitted olives, & 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese)
Indian: In addition to the lime rind and juice, add 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 Tbs freshly grated ginger, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 seeded & minced green jalapeno pepper, 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped cilantro. Adjust salt.
Latino: In addition to the lime rind and juice, add 1 tsp toasted & ground cumin, 1 minced garlic clove 1 seeded & minced green jalapeno pepper, 2 Tbs coarsely chopped cilantro. Add Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste; adjust salt.
Floridian Fusion: In addition to the lime rind and juice, add 1 cup of seeded, halved tangerine slices, 1 tsp freshly ground allspice, and several dashes of hot sauce (Pickapeppa would be terrific!)
Celebrate diversity and invent your own!