Thursday, June 03, 2010

Small Potatoes

Every Sunday, we go to a potluck.  I love it.  We're a creative bunch who likes to experiment with foods and flavors, and it's always fun to see what the other people will bring.  We sometimes have themes to help us pick what to make.  I feel like it's made me a better cook, even if it's not so good for my waistline sometimes, especially when S gets carried away with the butter and cheese, which is often.

Since last weekend was Memorial Day weekend, the "theme" was grilling.  And while I'm not much of a grill-person (because Lance takes it over, and I'm more than happy to let him do so), I decided to focus my attentions on a salad of some sort.  I had gobs of greens from the garden that desperately needed using, so I started thinking of a potato salad.

Now, if you're into potato salads, you will know that there are lots of different philosophies and approaches.  Some like there's covered in mayonnaise.  Some vehemently argue for an oil/vinegar/herb dressing.  Pesto makes an interesting alternative.  Personally, I'll eat it as long as it tastes good.  My prerequisites are: enough salt and bite from vinegar or pickles (so many potato salads are bland, bland, bland) and lots of flavor.  You can leave those boring, plain salads at home.  I also usually prefer them nice and chilled.

I was in a bit of a time crunch, however, (we were just returning from Lance's grandmother's) so I know that I wouldn't have time to make a chilled salad.  A warm potato salad, perhaps?  With lightly cooked chard and beet greens?  And some boiled eggs to bulk it up a bit?  What if I roast the potatoes with some garlic and onion?  I thought and thought, and came up with an unusual combination of textures and flavors.

It may not be pretty, but it was freakin' delicious.

I'm not a huge mayonnaise fan, though I will eat food with mayonnaise in it.  Subsequently, we don't usually have it in the house, so I had to figure out some other way to dress my salad.  What about the tahini-yogurt sauce recipe I'd made for some falafels a few weeks ago?  I'd been eating the leftover on salads, and it was delightful: tangy, garlicky, and lemony, with a rich depth from the tahini.  Oh, yes.

I tasted it, and decided that it needed a bit more bite: pickles.  Since I was completely off track from a traditional potato salad, I used my homemade dilly beans (yes, there will be a post when I make this year's batch because OH MY GOD they are awesome) and some of the dilly vinegar.  Next time I'll add a bit more (I was trying to keep it light on the vinegary taste for a vinegar-hater).  The end result?  A keeper.  Everyone gobbled it up and demanded that next time I put in more dilly beans.  And here's the recipe.

Warm Potato and Greens Salad

  • ~1 lb new potatoes (I used a mix of red and gold.  I also have no idea how many I used, so...)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • several cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into halves/quarters if especially large
  • olive oil spray (or just a glug)
  • chard and beet greens (or just chard), chopped. (I eat stems and all.  Stems have a nice crunch)
  • 4 eggs, boiled, peeled and chopped
  • pickles, chopped (dills preferred).
  • vinegar from pickles, to taste
  • salt, pepper, nutritional yeast*, to taste
  • tahini-yogurt sauce (recipe to follow)
Preheat oven to 425.  Wash and chop the potatoes into bite size pieces.  Spread on a cookie sheet with onion and garlic, and spray over with olive oil (or toss lightly in a bowl, then spread on cookie sheet).  Place in oven until brown and potatoes are cooked to preferred texture, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the chard/beet greens: chop the greens, stems and leaves (some people don't eat the stems. I say "fools").  Heat a little oil in a skillet or pot and toss in the greens.  Stir until they start to get bright.  Add some water and cover to let them steam, stirring occasionally.  They won't cook for too long because both chard and beet greens are more tender than, say, kale or collards.

When the potatoes are done, put into a big bowl and toss with the greens, egg, pickles, tahini-yogurt sauce, pickle vinegar, and seasonings.  Taste and adjust flavors.

Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
(adapted from the estimable Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian)
  • 1/2 c. yogurt
  • 1/2 c. tahini with oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (the more garlic, the better in my book)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt/pepper
  • parsley
In a food processor, toss all the ingredients and let it go until combined.  Taste and adjust flavors.

(My version for the salad was heavy on the salt since it needed it to season the potatoes.  It also makes an excellent sauce for many, many other things, including salads, Greek food, etc).

*I frequently flavor with nutritional yeast.  It adds a little extra something delicious that I love.

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