Friday, July 1, 2011

Taking Potato Salad to the Picnic

Happy, fresh, perky potato salad without all the...whatever
 My husband adores potato salad.
 His mother puts pickle juice in it.
And it's darned good.

I still don't make it often. It smacks of fattening mayonnaise, though I often make a closer-to-French version with a mustard-tarragon vinaigrette.  But there's no reason at all not to make it.  And it's lovely made with tiny new farmer's market potatoes, baby broccoli, fresh shallots, an ear of corn, and whatever else you've drug home.  In fact, let's just think of it as a salad.  That has potatoes in it.  Be inventive and put in what you have or like.  Tarragon or thyme would be sweet in place of the parsley.. if you like one of them better.  Tomatoes could be chopped for the top.  Asparagus or green beans, chopped, could be added in place of, or in addition to, the broccoli.

St. Paul Farmer's Mkt display

St Paul Farmer's Mkt sugar snaps

I will tell you that many people ruin potato salad because they have no idea how to season it.  Some cooks will just pour in salt, when it's acid (vinegar or lemon juice) that's needed to kick the salad off. 

And if it's too hot to leave that stove on, do make this.  It's all done in the microwave, so you save/eat all the nutrients that go down the drain if you boil the veg.  It is a bit of a pain to keep cooking things separately in the microwave, but it sure beats turning on the stove when it's 90 something and 75% humidity.  As your microwave could cook more slowly or quickly than mine, use the cooking times as a guide.  Taste your vegetables and see if they're done to your liking.  The potatoes, when left covered after cooking, will cook a bit more as they hold a good deal of heat.  If you like the other vegetables fresh, don't cook them!

You've got something yum and healthy to take to the picnic.  Happy Fourth!

Shallots from the market

Pencil added for scale.  These are tiny, tender toothsome babies.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad   (Made in the microwave)  4-6 servings
1.5 # new potatoes (1-2" or cut into that size) cooked with 1/4 c water about 6 minutes covered.  Let sit 5 minutes before using.*
2T olive oil
3/4 t kosher salt; 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper; Pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 new peas, or frozen  (If new, cook in microwave covered 2 minutes and drain; run cold water; drain. If frozen, run under warm water until unthawed and then drain.)
2-3 stalks new broccoli, chopped (Cook for 2 minutes with carrots in 1T water & covered)+
1 carrot, peeled and cut in matchsticks (Cook for 2 minutes with broccoli)
1 ear of fresh corn (Leave husks on and cook 3 minutes or so.  Let sit in husks another 3-5 minutes before husking, taking off silks, and cutting the kernals off the cob while holding the cob upright on the board.)
1/2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks (Don't cook.)
1/2 red pepper (sweet), finely chopped
2 eggs, boiled and chopped (PAM a medium bowl, add eggs, prick all over, cover tightly and microwave 2 minutes.  Cool and chop.)
2 strips bacon (Cook in microwave w/ several paper towels above and below for 1 1/2 min.) Cool and  chop.*

2 minced shallots
4 minced green onions (Save a bit out for garnish.)
1/4 c chopped parsley (Save a bit out for a garnish.)
Juice of half a lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
2T minced fresh dill
1/2 c sour cream (in a small bowl at table)
  • Mix warm potatoes with oil, salt, pepper and red pepper.  Add peas though parsley.  Stir and taste. Adjust for seasonings. 
  • Add lemon juice; stir.  Taste again and add more juice if needed.
  • Garnish with reserved green onions, parsley and a big grind of pepper for their good looks and taste.  Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh dill.
  • If  desired, pass sour cream at table and let each guest top their salad with a spoonful.
+If you have older/large broccoli, trim the stems and cut them off a bit (discard trimmings) before chopping for cooking.  Young, tender stalks should be fine.
*You can use pancetta, too, though I'd chop it and gently fry it in a small skillet instead of microwaving it, though you probably could. Some people like to boil pancetta a bit before frying remove the pancetta taste somewhat.  I don't do that, but do it if you like. Cooked, julienned ham is also an option.

If you haven't frequented markets, here's one of my favorites:  (after the St. Paul Farmer's Market, of course)
 Photos from Pike Place Market in Seattle (taken in May, 2010)

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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