How A Melon Baller Can Take Your Roast Potatoes To The Max

There are some kitchen tools that seem to have only one purpose, and on the surface, a melon baller is one of those. It's the instrument designed for making perfectly symmetrical spheres of fruit — watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon. But what many people don't know is that the (reductively-named) melon baller works great for roast potatoes, too.

When roasting any vegetable, you want all the pieces to be roughly the same size. Trying to cook a mix of irregular-sized vegetables leads to some pieces being undercooked while others get overcooked. Using a melon baller to create identical potato pieces means that all of the potatoes will cook evenly. In fact, there's a classic dish known as Parisian potatoes, or pommes Parisienne, that makes these small spheres of spuds the star of a great side dish. This roasted potato recipe may be where the melon baller gets its alternate name, the Parisian scoop.   

Same-sized spheres make perfect roast potatoes

Using a melon baller to make roast potatoes requires a bit more effort than just chopping them up, but the effort is definitely worth it. You want to use Yukon Gold or similarly waxy potatoes since they hold their shape well. After you peel the potatoes, place them in water so that they don't brown while you use the melon baller. Remember that you're looking for full spheres, so scoop carefully. Depending on the size of your potato, you should get about six to eight balls.

You can help your potatoes along in the roasting process by parboiling them. Just make sure that you dry them thoroughly before putting them in the oven. You have many great options on how to season your roast potatoes. You can cook them in a mixture of butter and oil, herbs of your choice, or plain garlic to amp up the flavor.

This melon baller trick can be used with other vegetables, too. Making a heaping bowl of roasted butternut squash,  beet, or sweet potato balls would make a stunning holiday centerpiece; just make sure you've got a sturdy scoop before digging in. But even a cheap one can handle soft summer veg like zucchini and yellow squash spheres. Give cubes a break and think round!