July 15, 2008

smashed red potatoes with summer pesto and buffalo burgers

I can be such as dang slacker. You know I spent 6 weeks in Italy in college studying archaeology and was such a slacker that my friend and I refused to complete the easy assignment or essay requested at the end of the program, thus passing on the how-many-ever college credits it should have been worth. W. T. F.? That is just pathetic. But I did have fun!

So, the charming and entertaining Cathy of Noble Pig is hosting a Potato Ho-Down for submissions of potato recipes galore tomorrow--You know, for all those folks who might occasionally jump right over the asparagus or sole and go right to the say, garlic mashed potatoes, home fries, or latkes! I was *so* looking forward to joining this month and cooked the simple recipe below for Sunday dinner. Then what do I go and do? I think I was the LAST person to send her my entry. Whew! Made it, just under the wire. (I'm having flashbacks to nearly every college assignment. I must work well under pressure... right?)

Check out Noble Pig tomorrow, Wednesday the 16th, for links to lots of lovely folks' undoubtedly fantastic takes on the unassuming but oh-so-satisfying potato.

In the meantime, here's a meal I cooked up Sunday that both Adam and I LOVED. It was terribly simple and sang of summer goodness.

Smashed Red Potatoes with Pesto
and Buffalo Burgers with Pesto Aioli*
Inspired by Sunday AM Rachael Ray episode and the Joy of Cooking recipes

*I just love that adding flavor to mayonnaise elevates it to the gastronomically superior "aioli." What a cheat.

5-6 small red potatoes
1/4 c milk
1 T butter

2 c basil, loosely packed
1/2 c pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1/2 c Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 c olive oil
salt and coarse black pepper to taste

2 T low-calorie mayonnaise (or whatever mayo-like product you prefer)
1 lb ground buffalo (or beef)
1/3 yellow onion, diced finely
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t kosher salt
heavy dusting of coarse black pepper

4 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, toasted

1. Make the pesto:
Put basil, pine nuts, garlic, and half of the cheese in a food processor and process until the mixture is fairly creamy. Stream in the olive oil and process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl or resealable container (so you can save the extras for pasta, bread, or vegetables). Add the salt, pepper, and remaining cheese; and gently combine with a spoon or spatula. Set aside.

2. Make the aioli for the burgers:
In a small cup or dish, mix 2 t of the pesto with about 2 T of mayonnaise, or adjust the ratio to taste.

3. Make the taters:
Clean, dry, quarter, and boil the potatoes until fork-tender. Drain, and place in a bowl or serving dish. Add milk, butter, 1-2 T of pesto, and smash or gently break up the potatoes while mixing. Add salt, pepper, and more pesto if you wish. Set aside, or keep warm in an oven at 200 degrees.

4. Make the burgers
Put a large cast-iron pan, non-stick skillet, or stove-top grill on medium-high. (Preheat for 2-3 minutes while mixing the burgers.)

Place defrosted lean ground buffalo in a bowl. Add onion, paprika, salt, and pepper and mix gently by hand. Press the buffalo into the bowl a bit so it's flat and score it so that you have portions for 4 equally-sized burgers. Shape the burgers, making the center a bit flatter or indented.

Cook the patties 2-3 minutes on each side for a medium burgers with a light pink center. Remove from heat.

To serve:
I put about 3 t of the aioli on the toasted burger bun, added the burger and put some thinly-sliced homegrown cucumbers (my mother-in-laws, not my own!) Plop down some potatoes, add some more fresh veggies or a green salad.

The burger was really fantastic with locally and naturally produced buffalo, the addition of paprika (thank you, Rachael Ray), and the creamy pesto aioli. Potatoes were tasty, though I might add even more pesto or some fresh bits of basil for a little extra brightness.


  1. but of course, madam--aioli sounds much more appetizing than mayonnaise. :)
    this meal needs no help in sounding or looking more appetizing. delicious!

  2. yes, i'm one of those girls... i go for the potatoes first every time. thanks mindy for joining in on our potato ho down.

  3. Well, call me a moron. I love potatoes, and I love basil pesto, but it had never once occurred to me to combine them. Yup, moron. But a timely suggestion on your part, as I was just looking at our basil trees (they're progressed far beyond the "plant" stage at this point) and thinking I'd better make some pesto before we're totally overrun. And now I know what I can do with the pesto, besides my standard slap it on some pasta and stuff my face. Pesto potatoes, here I come!

  4. Mmmm, those taters look really good!

  5. We had these last night with chicken grilled in a balsamic vinegar glaze. They were DIVINE!

  6. Thank you for your visit to my blog "impressioni di novembre".
    Your blog is very nice and the hamburger with potatoes is marvelous.
    Bye bye Cristy

  7. Your smashed red potatoes look wonderful. Can't wait to try them.

  8. Pesto with potatoes=big hit at my house. Thanks for the totally obvious, but clearly not to me, idea.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Thanks everyone for your love of the potato! Kristin, I wouldn't call you a moron... lol... glad you liked.

  11. Combining basil and potato sounds delicious! Wish I had some for lunch today ;-)