Bake a small potato and get a taste of the long history of this South American native. Caspar Bauhin, in his 1596 book "Phytopinax," spread the rumor that potatoes could cause leprosy, which lead to a fear among many Renaissance-era Europeans of eating them. This negative folklore didn't stop the potato from becoming a staple across Europe by the 18th century and, later, the United States. Enjoy the skin and the tender flesh of a small potato simply by roasting it in a conventional oven.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse your small potato under the cold water from your kitchen faucet.
Scrub the potato with a vegetable scrubber to remove dirt and debris. Potato skins are nutritious and tasty when baked. Stab the potato twice with the tines of a fork, making holes approximately 1/2 inch deep. This helps it cook evenly in your oven.
Place the potato on your baking sheet. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil onto your potato. Sprinkle a dash of salt.
Bake your potato for approximately 30 minutes. If your potato is 2 inches wide or smaller, check on it after 15 minutes.
Poke the potato with your fork to test if it's done. If it is tender and cooked, the fork will glide right in. If the potato is hard, continue baking for about 10 minutes. Test the potato again. If it's thoroughly cooked, remove it from the oven using an oven mitt.
New potatoes or red potatoes are small enough to be quartered and baked on a tray. Drizzle olive oil and add salt and pepper. Spices such as rosemary can be included.
If you forgo the oil and salt, the potato can be placed directly on the grill of the oven.
Wrap the potato in aluminum foil to shorten the cooking time and keep it moist.
Keep young children away from the oven when it's on.