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Top 10 ways to eat a potato

In addition to being one of the most versatile foods, potatoes are also a staple of college diets

<p>Anna Mason is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Anna Mason is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

1. Potato chips

Everyone has seen potato chips before. An easy, grab-and-go snack that will fill your day with crispy, salty satisfaction — potato chips are everywhere. Vending machines and grocery stores are stocked with these snacks, and Take It Away has adorable barrels for their potato chip collection. Potato chips go perfectly with sandwiches for lunches, or they can be eaten by themselves for a quick snack before class. There are so many flavors to choose from including barbeque, jalepeño and even maple bacon.

2. Gnocchi 

Potatoes can even be used as pasta. Gnocchi is a potato-based dumpling that is formed with flour, potato and eggs. These adorable dumplings are used similarly to noodles in dishes like pastas and soups. Gnocchi can be bought pre-made, but it can also be made at home — a fun roommate bonding experience could be preparing homemade gnocchi! Tip — an easy way to form the distinctive shape of a gnocchi dumpling is to roll it down the tongs of a fork.

3. Potato skins and wedges

Potato skins and wedges are bite-sized forms of baked potatoes. Potato skins use just a little bit of the inside of the potato and the skin of the potato to create a crispy holder for the cheesey, bacon-filled goodness inside. Potato wedges are formed from russet potatoes that are cut into wedges and baked with cheese and other toppings to create a dippable version of potato skins. These make perfect appetizers for game day tailgates before watching the Hoos!

4. Potato salad

This dish is a staple at my Fourth of July backyard barbeques, but it can be enjoyed any time of year. The basic recipe is simple — peeled and boiled gold potatoes are cooled and then chopped into smaller pieces, and these pieces are combined with celery, white vinegar, hard boiled eggs, green onion, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, celery seed and, of course, salt and pepper. There are definitely a few twists people can take on this recipe, and every potato salad will taste slightly different. You can definitely adjust this dish to fit any taste preferences and create a unique recipe very easily. 

5. Steamed potatoes

Using a regular pot that you would steam other vegetables in, add an inch or so of water and place a steaming basket in the water. Then, put the potatoes in and let them cook to the texture you desire. Once the potatoes have steamed, you can season them with parsley, salt and pepper — or any other seasonings you would like. Steaming takes less time than boiling and doesn’t dilute the flavor of the potatoes. 

6. Hash browns or tater tots

Hash browns and tater tots are crispy breakfast potatoes that I looked forward to in O’Hill every morning during my first year at U.Va. The two have different shapes but are essentially the same preparation of the potato, though there are definitely people who pick favorites. The perfect addition to eggs and bacon and everything in between, hash browns round out any early morning breakfast before classes. One of my favorite niche dishes I used to make growing up are hash brown nachos. It is exactly what it sounds like — simply substitute the tortilla chips in nachos for hash browns or tater tots to create an unconventional but delicious dish. 

7. Mashed potatoes

There are quite a few different ways to prepare mashed potatoes depending on the texture you’re going for. Whipped potatoes require a mixer or whisk to combine the boiled potatoes, seasonings, butter and milk together into a creamy, fluffy cloud of deliciousness. You can also mash potatoes with  a potato masher — or with a fork if you’re in a pinch! If using a potato masher or fork, you can leave the skin on the potatoes and make a chunkier, but still delicious, side dish. 

8. Baked potatoes

Baking potatoes may be one of the easiest ways to prepare a potato. Cut a few slits into the potato to allow ventilation and wrap it in foil, then bake it in the oven. You can coat the potatoes with olive oil and salt after cleaning the skin, but salting the potato can also be done after the baking. After the baked potatoes are done cooking — they do take up to an hour to cook all the way through if you’re using russet potatoes — the fun begins. Top your baked potatoes with sour cream, butter, bacon, chives and cheddar cheese for a loaded baked potato that will become your go-to comfort food. 

9. Roasted potatoes

Roasted potatoes are my personal favorite. These can be made with chopped up russet potatoes, smaller fingerling potatoes or any other potato you have on hand in your kitchen. On a baking sheet, cover the potatoes with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and parmesan cheese, and you will have a crispy, warm side that goes with any entree. These also make the perfect mid-afternoon snack!

10. French fries

One of the classic ways to eat a potato, french fries are a staple in the dining halls across Grounds and in restaurants around the world. French fries take many shapes — I am partial to curly fries, but steak fries, waffle fries, crinkle-cut fries and shoestring fries are all close runner-ups. These can be purchased pre-made from the freezer aisle, but they can also be made from scratch by slicing potatoes and either frying them or baking them in the oven. French fries are a timeless side dish or snack, and they can be eaten with a wide variety of condiments and dips.