I’m not just talking about adding them to pickle brine, either. Or squeezing a bright yellow condiment on ball park franks. Mustard seeds create a pungent and lively taste in other savory dishes that is a shame to miss. I grew up with mustard seed in vegetable dishes, but didn’t blink when they appeared in chutneys, meat or fish dishes, too.
Originally, this family recipe was a spinach dish with a few sprinkles of potatoes. I made it more about the potatoes once, after discovering a woeful lack of the green stuff in my refrigerator, and the recipe stuck in my Missouri kitchen. It’s Indian but goes well with other foods, it’s tasty and easy. So the only question left regarding the challenge: can you cut the mustard?
Spinach and Potatoes with Mustard Seed
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into ½” cubes and partially boiled
1-1/2 cup spinach, washed and roughly cut, or 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted
1-1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. When hot, put in the mustard seeds and let pop for 3-5 seconds. Add the cubed, partially cooked potatoes and stir and fry for 5 minutes. Add spinach. Add salt, cayenne and turmeric. Add a little water and cover if needed to complete the cooking process. The dish is done once the potatoes are cooked through.
Nina Furstenau teaches food writing in the Science and Agricultural Journalism program at the University of Missouri. She is the author of “Savor Missouri, River Hill Country Food and Wine” and “Biting Through the Skin,” She writes “A Spiced Life,” column for the Columbia Daily Tribune (http://www.columbiatribune.com/arts_life/food/) and blogs at http://www.missourilife.com/blogs/savor-missouri.