Pope’s beans and purple mashed potatoes

March 31, 2010, 11:16 PM

These Peruvian beans, called fagioli del papa in Italian, have a robust flavor and a dramatic color. This was just a quick-and-dirty weeknight preparation, so I don’t even remember exactly how I seasoned it, but I know I used za’atar, onions, garlic, and a mix of bell peppers, along with a touch of tomato. I boiled the beans themselves with a few allspice berries and bay leaves, just enough to make the beans a bit more mysterious but not so much as to compete with the final seasoning.

Fagioli del papa, Pope's beans

Anyway, we liked the results, even with fairly odd combination of ingredients.

I rescued a few lonely purple potatoes that had been sitting neglected, almost forgotten, in a brown paper bag. After boiling them, I pressed them through a potato ricer, and brought them back to my smallest sauce pan to cook them with a little butter and salt. I stirred in milk gradually, then I finished them off with an unhealthy dose of medium-aged gouda.

Purple potatoes pureed on the stove

I don’t know how to make mashed potatoes look interesting, but this version was fun, and like with any other version, butter does most of the work. Milk softens the color quite a bit, so the result leaned a bit lavender.

Purple potatoes pureed with butter, milk and 1-year-aged gouda

The puree, while not especially pretty, was surprisingly smooth. I usually don’t stir mashed potatoes much after ricing them, for fear of turning them into glue, but I must have gotten the temperature just right, because they were almost impossibly creamy. Despite the suggestion of the little pat of butter on top used to finish them, I used only a couple of tablespoons of butter in the puree itself, for about a half pound of potatoes. Good and simple.

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