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.
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.