Pasta With Praties

An Irish joke? Pasta with praties? Why not? I adore hot potatoes on bread as well. And chip sandwiches. And even, spare me, squashed potato crisps stuck between slices of bread.

Pasta with potatoes makes as much sense as cream with ice cream. But haven’t we all done that, and loved it? The funny thing about this mix is that I actually started out to make it. From scratch. It wasn’t the usual case of having a bowl of leftover cooked potatoes in the fridge looking at me forlornly, waiting for somewhere to go. What I had been doing was mulling over how marvellous was this new breed (for us) of potatoes called Kipflers. These are generally small, and tubular, and if you put five of them together in a line, they would look like a woodcutter’s fingers: gnarled, scarred, and swollen. But they taste magnificent. And almost sticky, there is so much free starch hanging about. But there’s a nuttiness to their flavour that draws you in and holds you firmly in their grasp. Put a bowl before a sucker like me, and before you know it, I’ve eaten a dozen of them. Somehow the texture and the flavour make them a natural for a crazy mix with pasta.

500 g Kipfler potatoes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely

a little olive oil, for cooking, and more for later

2 teaspoons white mustard seeds

200 g spaghetti


75 g butter, softened and cut into cubes

juice of 1 lime

handful of thyme

stacks of black pepper

parmesan cheese for grating and mixing


The only way for me to cook these potatoes is with skins on, in the pressure cooker. That way they take about 5 minutes, from go to whoa. If you haven’t a pressure cooker, steam them until tender. Set aside to cool, and then peel. It won’t take long, and there is something delicious about feeling that waxy flesh coming into your hands.


Once the potatoes are peeled, slice them into chunky ‘coins’. Heat the garlic in the oil until very hot, and add the mustard seeds. Stir about as they sizzle, and cook for a minute or so.


Start cooking the pasta. Add the slices of potato to the mustard seed mix. Cook on medium heat, stirring about, and scraping any fried potato that might wish to stick to the bottom of the pan. The potato is done when the ‘coins’ are crisping just a little and some potato permanently adheres to the bottom of the pan. Make sure most of the potato has been touched by the mustard seed.


Remove from the heat, add a little salt and the cubes of butter, stirring about until the heat of the potato and the pan just melts the butter.


Add the lime juice and thyme, rubbing the stems between your hands to release all the tiny leaves into the pan. Turn the pepper mill over the lot for 1 minute. I’m not kidding. This dish loves and needs black pepper.


If you’ve forgotten the pasta, or overcooked it, never fear. This is a great stand-alone potato dish. Stop now, and take to each potato with a little fork, rubbing each ‘coin’ into the butter and mustard seed mix.


If the pasta’s okay, just toss it through the potato mix, adding a deal of grated parmesan at the same time. Serve in bowls, and have more parmesan on side.

. . . AND If you’re more than bemused by the concept of potatoes with pasta, add a cup of fresh peas, broad beans, or just-cooked asparagus spears at the same time as the butter. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the dish, other than add a touch of Irish green.

Funny thing with this recipe. I wanted to use chives instead of thyme, but we had nothing fresh but thyme. I tried it, and was amazed at how marvellous it was with the potatoes and the mustard seeds. Shows that ‘you never know unless you have a go’ remains forever appropriate for fun cooking.

Another bolt from the blue: macadamia-nut oil is just perfect with potatoes. Try it in a warm salad of potatoes, chives and macadamia nuts.

WINE: Why not have a glass of good Irish whiskey while you cook this dish – it is more aromatic than its Scottish cousin, with a herb-like character that makes it a very good aperitif.