In spite of my dislike of meat, I don't really think of myself as a food snob. I like Wonder Bread and processed cheese, my favorite ice cream flavors are plain ol' vanilla and chocolate, and my morning beverage of choice is black instant coffee. (It's so hyper-caffeinated and awful you can't help but wake up and pull yourself together in a way you really can't if you're drinking something you might find pleasant.)
However, there is one area in which I am a purist: I do not like instant mashed potatoes. Not at all. It must be the Boston Irish in me*, but I never thought that real mashed potatoes were bland -- they have a subtle, but unique, taste and texture that makes for a nice substitute for rice in vegetable dishes. One of my special joys in life is eating a plate cold, fresh salad on top of hot mashed potatoes. Something about the marriage of salad dressing, tomato, hot creamy potatoes, and lettuce just makes for a very satisfying summer lunch.
Here is an admittedly slightly sexed-up recipe for mashed potatoes, based on my feelings that creamer potatoes require less butter and milk and therefore are slightly more "vegetarian" and also a bit healthier for you, and also that cutting russets after a hard day of work is a huge pain in the bum that can be circumvented by simply mashing whole creamer potatoes into a wonderful, golden pulp:
8 medium sized creamer potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons of butter
pepper to taste
Clean your potatoes. Boil in pot until soft. Drain the water. Add the butter, milk and pepper. Mash as hard as you can for about three minutes. Stir to blend in remaining milk, butter, and bits of dried potato.
As an added bonus: here is a veggies-in-'gravy' dish inspired by my mom's recipe for Chicken Marengo, it goes great with mashed potatoes.
2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
4 cups of diced broccoli and cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
1 can of butter beans, drained
sesame oil (to taste)
Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil. Sauté the diced garlic until brown. Add the cups of diced broccoli and cauliflower and let them cook down until they're wilted but not brown. Add the butter beans, sesame oil, and tomatoes. The beans and tomatoes will break down to form a reddish-brown gravy that goes great with red creamer potatoes.
*Technically, I'm originally from Lawrence, not Boston, but we're still talking Eastern Massachusetts so allow me some poetic license. It's pretty much the same culture. Although in Southie I would be considered a yuppie.