Monday, July 11, 2011

Potato Salad Goes Green

In a bowl of potato salad there was some green. Not a nasty, dirty, wet green with the fuzz of mold and an oozy smell, nor a dry, pretentious green, not worth sitting down to and not fit to eat: it was potato salad, and that means comfort.

And those of you who haven’t committed the first lines of The Hobbit to memory can enjoy this potato salad, too. It’s just as easy as any other potato salad, but can help you use up some of the other stuff you have languishing in the…has more healthy and delicious green vegetables than you might typically see in this summer staple food.

This all started with a creamy tarragon dressing recipe for potato salad that I think I clipped from Martha Stewart Living Magazine ages ago. My tarragon plant survived the winter and has been growing nicely on my patio, so it was time to use some. I also had lots of broccoli and green beans from the CSA (the potatoes, creamy and sweet Yukon gold new potatoes with very thin skins, were from there as well.) Those greener things were destined to supplement the potatoes in a nice and tasty salad.

I steamed the beans and broccoli just a bit. I still wanted them to have some crunch and still taste like vegetables and not boiled green mush, but I also wanted to take the harder raw edge off of them so they would be more pleasant to eat in the salad. I used to microwave to steam them, much like I did for the asparagus in this recipe, then shocked them by running them under cold water, drained them well, and chilled them until I was ready to finish the salad.

The potatoes I boiled in their skins until cooked through, which, to me, is the only way to prepare them for salad. I let them cool, then chilled them as well. I find that cooked potatoes slice much more neatly when they are completely cold. You could peel the potatoes after cooking them, but since mine were organic, I left the very soft and thin skins intact.

The dressing started out as a simple vinaigrette laced with tarragon and thickened with sour cream. I let it stay pretty creamy, but I really bumped up the Dijon mustard content considerably and cut back the sour cream. The result was nice and tangy and the Dijon goes well with the tarragon, which is present but not overwhelming. You could use more if you love it, or replace it with another herb if wish. I think thyme would be good, and so might basil, thinly sliced, or chiffonade if you cook with your pinky finger extended.

I suppose the flavors and style of this salad might be considered French-influenced. Really for me, it was influenced by the fabulous fresh and green summer vegetables I happened to have on hand. That and a love of new potatoes in salads. I could eat potato salads every week and they’re so easily variable, who knows what I’ll be able to try next…. Spuds “go ever ever on.”

Potato, Broccoli and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Mustard Dressing

1 pound boiling potatoes (I had Yukon gold new potatoes), about 4 medium-size potatoes
8 ounces broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size florets
4 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1. Scrub the potatoes clean. Place them in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook, boiling moderately until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes (but rely on tenderness more than time). Cool the potatoes, then chill completely.

2. Place the broccoli and beans in a microwave-safe container. Add a splash of water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Punch several holes in the plastic with a knife. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap, avoiding any steam. Plunge the broccoli and beans in ice water or run very cold water over them to stop the cooking. Drain well and chill.

3. To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until well-combined. Stir in the sour cream and tarragon. Set aside.

4. Peel the potatoes if desired (I didn’t). Quarter them and cut into about ½ inch slices. Place in a large bowl with the broccoli and beans. Add the dressing and toss well to combine.

Makes 6-8 servings. Leftover salad will keep for a few days refrigerated.

Other recipes like this one: Lemon Herb Potato Salad, Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Mustard-Pepper Dressing

One year ago: Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Aioli

Two years ago: Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

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