To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe (VE Day – 8 May 1945), Potato Pete is being brought back to life through wartime recipes which have been given a modern makeover. Though times have changed, potatoes remain a British favourite and are still helping the country enjoy a healthy, balanced diet.
Potato Pete was a fun character created by the Ministry of Agriculture & Food to inspire people to eat more potatoes and maintain their health during the Second World War. Families were encouraged to make use of their gardens or allotments to grow vegetables through the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. At its peak, there were 1.4 million allotments in Britain.
Kate Cox of the Potato Council says, “Potatoes were a staple ingredient in Britain during the war and a key component of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, so it seemed only fitting to celebrate VE Day by revamping wartime recipes that are still just as tasty and nutritious today!”
Dietitians argue that wartime diets were amongst the healthiest the British population has ever eaten, which in turn led to improvements in the nation’s health.
Sian Porter, dietitian says, “Food during the Second World War was all about sustainability, minimising waste and nutrition. Today we are seeing a renewed interest in where our food comes from, how it is grown, avoiding waste as well as maximising nutrition. Ingredients such as potatoes were relevant then and are relevant now.”
Potatoes are the original superfood, with research* showing children get more Vitamin C, B1, B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium from potatoes than from the 5 superfoods; beetroot, bananas, nuts, broccoli and avocado combined.
Average intakes of potassium, iodine, folate and vitamin B6 are more than 10% higher in adults who regularly consume more potatoes rather than alternative carbohydrates such as pasta or rice. The average intakes of potassium, folate, vitamin A and vitamin B6 are also more than 6% higher in children who consume potatoes regularly.
Woolton Pie is a tasty and nutritious vegetable pie that could still be made during times of rationing and food shortages. It’s one of the most famous war time recipes, named after Lord Woolton, he helped to make the recipe popular when he became Minister of Food in 1940. I’ve taken that recipe and updated it to make the kind of ‘pie’ that many of us enjoy weekly – a pizza pie!
The Woolton Pizza Pie
For the base
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp milk
115g mashed Maris Piper potatoes
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
270g strong white flour
2 tsp fast action yeast
For the topping
6 new Charlotte potatoes
1/2 a small turnip (swede)
Florets from 1/2 a medium cauliflower
5 cloves of garlic, skins on
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
2 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
50g finely chopped parsley
I made my dough in the bread maker, but to make it by hand:
- Put the flour in a large bowl and add the sugar, salt and the yeast, keeping the the salt and yeast away from each other.
- Add the olive oil, butter, milk and potatoes and mix.
- Add the water a little at a time until you have a smooth, soft dough.
- Tip the dough onto an oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth. Leave to rise until doubled in size.
5. When the dough is rising, prepare the vegetables.
6. Heat the oven to 180C
7. Parboil the potatoes until tender but not fully cooked, leave to cool.
8. Slice the swede and carrots very thinly, I used a mandoline
9. Slice the cauliflower florets slightly more thickly or they will disintegrate
10. Place the swede, carrots and cloves of garlic in roasting tin with the oil and sprinkle with the paprika, mix together so the oil and paprika cover the vegetables.
11. Roast for 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften, then add the cauliflower, mix it in with the oil and other vegetables and roast for another 5 minutes.
12. Remove and leave to cool.
- The dough is quite soft, so using oiled hands, press it into a circle on your baking tray.
- Squeeze the softened garlic from the roasted garlic cloves and spread over the dough.
- Place the swede around the edge,overlapping the slices
- Place the carrots in circles from the inner edge of the swede to the centre of the pizza
- Slice the potatoes and make a circle as shown above
- Fill the centre with the roasted cauliflower florets, adding a single carrot slice in the centre if liked.
- Cover with cling film and leave to rise again for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes until the base is golden brown, if the vegetables start to brown to quickly, cover with a piece of foil.
- Serve hot from the oven sprinkled with parsley and spring onions.
The Woolton Pizza Pie tasted amazing, way better than I had hoped. The potato bread dough was really light and fluffy, the swede and carrots added sweetness, the potatoes added substance to the topping and the cauliflower roasted with smoked paprika was really delicious. A little fresh greenery on top lifted the flavours and the pizza was very filling as well as being really cheap to make. I served it with a salad of leaves, cucumber. celery and grated carrot. The Woolton Pizza is also very good cold, in fact cold potatoes are one of my favourite things.
If you are interested in more potato recipes you can find a huge range of recipes at Love Potatoes including more retro recipes with a modern twist.
|Some of my wartime cookery books and leaflets|
For more Wartime recipes follow the Wartime Kitchen Pinterest Board which I share with Karen at Lavender and Lovage. Karen is also celebrating VE Day with a recipe for ‘Whit Salad’ a very clever way to overcome the egg ration, so make sure you visit her amazing blog.
Galina at Chez Maximka is also featuring a VE Day potato recipe, her grandfather’s favourite potato vareniki with a poignant family story.
Just for a fun, here is how our family celebrated the 50th Anniversary of VE Day in 1995, with a mince pie and hand decorated napkins.
* SACN identified 14 micronutrients where there is evidence of low intakes and/or low nutritional status in the UK population (SACN 2008). Potatoes contribute 10% or more of intakes of many of these micronutrients in the UK, namely vitamin B6 (19%), potassium (18%), vitamin C (15%), thiamine (13%), folate (12%) and magnesium (10%) (Henderson et al. 2002). Source: 2010 British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin, 35, pg 326