Tag Archives: side dish

Potato Salad of Peace

28 Jul

I love vinegar. Love it. It’s hereditary: family lore has my uncles fighting over who got to drink the pickle juice when the last dill was gone. So naturally the German potato salad my maternal grandmother made for every potluck and family dinner since forever will curl your hair. My paternal grandmother took it a little easier and was liberal with the sugar. My mother and I come down somewhere in the middle, and I expect my sister will do the same. But we all agree that mayonnaise, miracle whip, and their ilk have no business near the potatoes.

We vinegar-loving women, however, had the misfortune to marry men whose potato preferences are strictly of the mayo-based variety, or, in my case, run to no potato salad at all. This makes for some very tense potlucks and cookouts, and, depending on whose turf the potatoes are on, someone is either unhappily eating the wrong salad or eating none at all.

So I ditched the vinegar and the mayo (I also aced myself by not cooking bacon anymore) and came up with something that has the potential to please any of the vinegar- and/or mayo-haters in your family. The black beans can make it a meal (protein!), but if you want the focus on the potatoes, leaving the beans out and using 2 pounds of potatoes would be equally tasty.

Summer Roasted Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, or a similar variety, quartered
  • 2 ears sweet corn, unshucked
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a baking dish large enough to let the potatoes sit in a single layer, toss the quarters with a little olive oil and salt. You’ll bake the potatoes for 1 hour, but after 30 minutes put the unshucked corn in the oven. You don’t have to do anything to it–the corn will sort of steam itself in the husks. (Hearing about this method was magical–nothing worse than standing in front of a big pot of boiling water in the summer.)

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, scallions, chile, cumin, about two tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, and the juice from the lime.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, shuck and remove the silk. Place the wide end of the cob on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife gently slice downward to remove the kernels. Combine the kernels and the roasted potatoes with the beans. Season to taste with salt, extra lime, or a little more oil if the potatoes seem dry.

Serve warm, at room temp, or cold, and make everyone happy.

Cold Lunch For a Hot Day

7 Jul

There were several reasons why this recipe seemed like a Very Good Idea for lunch today:

  • Chicago has been flirting with 100 degree temperatures this week.
  • Turning on any heat-producing device (stove, oven, hairdryer…) seemed like a Very Bad Idea.
  • Cold lunches usually = sandwiches, and I don’t really care for sandwiches. (I know.)
  • I should eat more greens.
  • My basil needed pruning.

And lo, all my problems solved in a single recipe!

Cannellini Bean Salad with Spinach and Lemon-Basil Dressing
adapted from Heather’s Dish

I made some adjustments to fit my preferences and scaled down since I was the only one eating. Multiply as needed to serve as a main dish or as a side for a group.

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 3 good handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced or microplaned
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • kosher or sea salt to taste

Combine the beans and the sliced scallion in a bowl.

In a blender, pulse the spinach a few times until it’s coarsely chopped. No need to worry if some whole leaves remain. Add the spinach to the bowl with the beans.

Put the rest of the ingredients in the blender and pulse until the dressing has emulsified. Pour over the beans and spinach, mix gently, and salt to taste. Eat, and be very, very glad you decided not to use the stove.

Sprouts! Update and a Recipe

19 Jun

My container garden is doing really, really well. I didn’t lose anything to transplant shock, and, after an early attack on the seedlings before I planted them, the starlings that nest in the roof beams of the porch have left everything alone (though I do get an earful from mother bird whenever I go out to water).

This is my first attempt at growing anything from seed, and I’m pretty proud of my work–work that began way back in early April. The tomatoes especially–from tiny seeds to sturdy plants that seem to get bigger every day. The jalapeño peppers and basil are doing well too, as are the two cucumber plants that survived the bird raid. I’m not sure about the lettuce yet–it’s growing, but it’s hard to imagine such delicate leaves turning into anything I can use for a salad, unless I go the trendy microgreens route.

I did decide to buy my perennial herbs from the garden center. I had oregano from seed, but apparently oregano seedlings are a bird delicacy. In addition to the oregano, I have thyme, lavender, and rosemary. The downside to purchasing was that I couldn’t find the particular varieties I wanted (Mexican rather than Mediterranean oregano, for example). But on the upside, these plants are large enough to cut from, so last night’s dinner featured our favorite salsa with oregano from our very own backyard. (Fine, our porch. Semantics).

Cherry Tomatoes

Thyme, peppers, and lavender

Lavender Buds

Roasted Salsa

With the exception of the onion, all the vegetables in this salsa are roasted, giving it a deep, rich flavor. It’s a nice contrast to a bright pico de gallo if you’re looking for variety.

  • 1 can roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen won our household taste test)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped oregano*
  • 1 lime
  • kosher or sea salt

Place the diced onion into whatever bowl you’ll use for the finished product. In a skillet, roast the garlic and peppers over medium high heat until black spots develop. When cool enough to handle, slice off one end of the cloves and squeeze the softened garlic into a blender. Core and seed the jalapeños and cut into chunks. Add to the blender, and give it a few pulses to chop the peppers and garlic. Add the can of tomatoes and pulse until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Pour the contents of the blender into the bowl with the onions and stir to combine. Season to taste with lime juice and salt–I use at least half the lime and a four-finger pinch of kosher salt. Gently stir in the oregano.

When tomatoes are in season later this summer, I’m going to try roasted them myself. This will either go very well or very badly.

* Cilantro is of course the herb of choice for salsa, but I really recommend trying the oregano even if you’re not a cilantro hater like me. If you can find the Mexican variety, all the better. I wouldn’t use dried herbs in this recipe unless I was really desperate.

Oregano and Thyme