Try green potatoes for St. Paddy's Day

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Until I moved to Chicago, St. Patrick's Day wasn't a big event for me. That first year, I was stunned by the site of what locals took for granted: a boat slowly traveling the Chicago River depositing a rich green dye into the water. It was amazing to see the water turn emerald.

Thereafter I understood: St. Patrick's Day is taken seriously in Chicago. And it's a great excuse for an all-day party in cold and dreary March.

Since then, I've created various recipes for getting in the mood, including a flank steak marinated in Guinness. But this year, I decided to focus on that other staple of the Irish diet, the potato. And in honor of Chicago, I made it a "green" potato recipe.

I make these potatoes at home all year. It is one of those simple recipes everyone asks for and can be cooked on the grill or in the oven. On a grill, put the potatoes directly onto the cooking grates over indirect heat (I use the warming rack on my grill). To make the potatoes in the oven, set the potatoes on a rack set over a baking sheet. That way hot air circulates around the potatoes, crisping them perfectly.

These crispy roasted potatoes are crunchy on the outside and soft and silky inside. So much so, you don't need the addition of butter or sour cream to make them creamy. But they do get even better when tossed in a green herb and garlic sauce.

The sauce is a simple uncooked sauce made from fresh green herbs, spices, garlic, shallots, lemon juice and olive oil. The hot roasted potatoes absorb all the flavors of the fresh herbs and the touch of lemon juice balances the starch, making for a light and almost refreshing potato side dish similar to a hot potato salad. And, they look great on the plate!

Roasted ‘Green’ Potatoes

Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active). Servings: 6

24 small red potatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sauce:

4 cups lightly packed chopped curly parsley

2 cups fresh basil

3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons minced shallot or onion

¾ cup olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

Heat a grill and set for indirect medium heat grilling or heat the oven to 350 F. Place potatoes in a large bowl or zip-close plastic bag. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and toss again to coat evenly.

If cooking on the grill, place the potatoes directly on the cooler side of the grill. If cooking in the oven, set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and place the potatoes on the rack. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the potato skins are lightly puffed and the insides are tender.

Prepare the sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until chopped well, but not liquefied. For a blender, it’s best to start with the liquid ingredients and end with the parsley.

When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a large serving bowl. Drizzle the sauce, about 1/4 cup at a time, over the potatoes and toss well to coat. You may have some sauce left over. Serve immediately or chill and serve cold.