the perfect complement

roasted red potatoes

For some of us, we found out in kindergarten, say when we were the goofy pink pig in a school play, holding a large cardboard animal in front of our puffy party dress, wearing a big white bow in our equally puffy hair (later immortalized in photographs we’d see again and again). But there are others, I suppose, who didn’t know until high school or adulthood maybe, when they didn’t get the promotion they wanted or didn’t become famous, or, if they did, it didn’t turn out to be what they’d hoped.

Whenever it happens, we eventually learn: Not everyone can be the star.

And maybe I’ve just known this for so long that I’m justifying, but, here’s my take: It’s not so bad to play a supporting role. In order for anyone to be a star, someone has to be a fan. For every leading lady, there’s a winsome best friend. For every best-selling author, there are publishers and editors and illustrators, not to mention readers—the people who ultimately determine a book’s success. And in that way, we behind-the-scenes types play a pretty important part, don’t you think? I mean, how interesting would a basketball team be if no one watched it? How much would you want to see a movie with only one actor? Heck, how sad would this blog be if no one read it? [You all who do are pretty wonderful, and I’d send each (!) one (!) of you a dozen homemade cookies if I could.]

These rules are so universal, in fact, that they extend even beyond human interaction but to things we do on a routine basis. Things like the way we view food.

There are, of course, the rockstars of food, the ones everyone wants to eat and talk about: the steak dinners, the homemade pizzas, the chocolate tortes. I think of them as the popular kids who never went through awkward stages and won every award.

Everyone seems to overlook the cooked carrots or the boiled green beans. These everyday vegetables aren’t dynamic forces on their own—maybe more of the bookworms or so-called geeks, but yet they make a big difference to an overall meal, completing dinners, bringing out the flavor of starring entrees, giving you nutrition when you need it.

So I offer this recipe in honor of all the unappreciated, in an attempt to shine the spotlight somewhere new, somewhere deserving: rosemary-covered roasted red potatoes. Whatever you’re having for dinner this next week, I bet at least once, this so-easy-to-make, so-easy-to-love side dish will be the perfect complement.

roasted red potatoes in the pan

Firm to the touch, red potatoes are more sugary than regular potatoes, but less starchy. And look at them! You can’t deny they’re pretty. Set on a plate with grilled chicken or blackened fish, they provide a punch of color with vibrantly rich red skins.

As these potatoes cook, the assertive smell of chopped rosemary fills the kitchen, pine-like and earthy. The oven emits a shrill scream, the sound of hot oil sizzling in the pan amidst your potatoes, mingling rosemary into the juices. And once roasted, these beauties turn stunningly golden, their skins crispy and wrinkled.

I like to pop them in my mouth one by one, biting past the crunchy exterior to soft, hot insides. They’re so tasty, I even like to eat them alone, as the starring event, you could say. It’s like one point for sidekicks everywhere.

Great Late-Night Food: One more thing I wanted to throw into this post, albeit on an unrelated note. DETAILS recently did an article on great places to get late-night food in several major cities. Did you know that Chicago’s Wiener’s Circle in Lincoln Park is open to 4 and 5 AM? Me neither. And I love a good hot dog. Check out the article here.

Roasted Red Potatoes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, quartered
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped rosemary
Coarse salt (i.e., kosher) and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes, oil and rosemary on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread out potatoes in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once halfway through cooking, until potatoes are golden brown and crisp outside and tender inside, about 30 minutes.


  1. says

    Great thoughts! I needed to read that today, and in my books, potatoes are the star of the meal. I often order a meal based on what potatoes come with the meat! I love the photo too.

  2. says

    lovely post today, as always. another great thing about side dishes? they save the day when the leading role fails to shine. awesome french fries making up for a ho-hum burger, for example. or an addicting fried rice that fills you up when the orange chicken is just way too greasy. thanks, side dishes!

    oh, and wiener’s circle at 3 am? just be ready for lots of drunken yelling, swearing, and boobs. and that’s just the workers. i done seen ’em, i tell ya. it wasn’t pretty. well, ok…it was pretty hilarious. make sure to get the cheese fries.

  3. says

    You are the best. I seriously think I would eat anything you described. You definitely have a gift. :) I’ll have to pick some red potatoes up and make them this weekend. I’ve been eating mainly just rice thanks to my now gluten-free diet.

  4. says

    shannalee, i’ll have you know i’ve always viewed bookworms and dorks as the Dover Sole of any high school social setting. it was the jocks and drama peeps who had supporting roles in my existence.
    i’m a fan of sides too and i’ve ordered meals of just sides before. i heart roasted potatoes, not just with rosemary but with other spices too, thyme being my fave.
    great post today!

  5. says

    Ohhhh potatoes! They were recently nominated for Best Supporting Dish in a Main Meal. Maybe you hadn’t heard? Well no matter! Ding ding ding! They’re the clear winner.

    So are we getting our cookies sent via Fedex?

    Also: We first heard about Weiner Circle from this show called This American Life. It was a bit…disturbing!!!! We love a great hot dog, but the show’s portrayal of the late night resto’s social implications was a downer. :(

  6. says

    Everyone loves roasted potatoes…mmm. I make these with sweet potatoes, too. But the real question is, how do you take such beautiful pictures? I am thinking I either need a new camera or a photography refresher course.

  7. says

    Well, based on what Jacqui and Duo Dishes said, I’m less excited about Wiener’s Circle. You guys are so in the know – thanks for telling me! Everyone else, be warned!

    Also, Jacqui: Excellent point about side dishes sometimes redeeming bleh entrees.

    Montague: Me too!

    Rae: Are you serious? No wonder we’re friends.

    Aw, Joanna, that was the nicest compliment. Thank you!

    Lan, Yes! Thyme! I love it, too. Need to start using it more.

    DD: Ha! The potatoes are flattered, I’m pretty sure. As for the cookies – next time you’re in Chicago, you’ll have to let me know.

    Thanks, kickpleat!

    Su-Lin, I’d love to hear how yours turned out. I bet they’d be wonderful with roasted chicken.

    Kaytie, Aw, you’re sweet. Am I blushing? Honestly, I am not the one to be asking. Any good pictures I take are part natural light, part mystery (to me too). But there are some really good resources I’ve found online by Googling things like “how to take food pictures” and such.

  8. says

    I’m so hungry right now and can’t eat anyything. my belly is still so raw from that awful flu. the good news is that I’ve lost weight but the downside is that I want to eat my computer looking at these potatoes. If you lived in the same city I would offer my services as your official taste taster. I’d blog about it. sigh.

  9. says

    Aw, Monica – I’m glad you’re feeling better! You would be a PERFECT taste taster, BTW. It really is too bad you have to live in New York. Or maybe it’s too bad I have to live in Chicago. Either way!

  10. says

    I just came over to see your site. I made very similar potatoes not long ago. Now I have to see everything. I loved your comment to us and it made me want to subscribe so I did. I don’t usually do that so fast. I’m going to add you to my food blog roll and I don’t do that so fast either. So good to meet you in food blog world. Angela

  11. says

    Yay! I love your site, too, especially because of the way you talk about things – I feel your passion about them. Good to meet you through food blogs, too, my new friend!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *