Thursday, June 18, 2009

Veggie Might: People Need Potato Salad

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Okay, enough with the rain, am I right, East Coasters? The sunshine teasers are just not enough. Anyway, I’ve digressed before I’ve begun.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my dear friend S in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. We spent a lovely (sunny!) couple of days playing with her little one, cooking (a fab bean salad I will share with you later), and catching up. On Sunday, we strolled through her local farmer’s market. I was able to score some choice produce to bring back to the city.

I also got a little inspiration to make a zippy, healthy potato salad.

Everyone has a favorite potato salad recipe. It’s a spring and summer classic and endlessly customizable. The tricky thing is making it light. My pal C’s mom’s version, my all-time favorite (sorry Grandma), swims in olive oil and mayo. But, dang it all, it’s good.

For this recipe, I let my farmer’s market haul, potato salads of my past, and the voices of my foodie friends speak to me. “Leigh, it’s just potato salad,” you may be thinking. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s so simple, and yet, so satisfying. And it just says summer.

My friend, A, called me just last week to tell me to keep my eye out for garlic scapes at my farmer’s market. She had just discovered them (and made pesto), but I had no idea what they were. Well, I do now; and I got a handful in PA.

Garlic scapes are delightful, curly green shoots that come out of garlic bulbs and eventually hinder bulb growth. Farmers trim off the curlicues, which have a lighter, less intense garlic flavor. I showed S my purchase, and she said, “Oh, scapes, I sauté them with potatoes.” A plan was forming.

My market take also included some beautiful spring onions. Diced and tossed in the potato salad, they gave a mellow sweetness. I opted to leave the scapes raw for a snappy crunch. I tossed in a bit of dill to what’s become my standard vinaigrette (courtesy of Mark Bittman) and voila!

Zippy and light, this potato salad is perfect for topping salad greens or accompanying a sandwich. I’ve had it for lunch twice this week and it’s definitely helped me beat the well-I-guess-I-could-never-live-in-Seattle blahs.

Normally, I would make potato salad with red bliss potatoes, but I had a bag of russets begging to be used. Hey, whatever potato suits your fancy, as long as they are firm in texture after cooked. I have to set a timer. Mine always come out too soft. I find that five minutes is all it takes.

Something about eating potato salad feels like summer. And I don’t know about you, but I could use a little sunshine right about now.

Potato Salad for Rainy Day People
Serves 4–6

1 1/4 lb potatoes (about 4 medium russets)
2 spring onions, chopped
1 small handful garlic scapes, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

1) Scrub potatoes well. Cut into 1” pieces. (I’m a skins-on kind of gal, but if you want to peel, go for it.) Place into pot of boiling water and cook until firm but cooked through, about 5 minutes.

2) Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

3) Chop onions and dice scapes.

4) In a blender, combine olive oil, vinegar, dill, salt, and pepper. Blend until emulsified.

5) Combine potatoes, onions, scapes, and dressing in a large bowl and toss well. Salt and pepper further to taste.

6) Serve over salad greens. Eat on a rainy day and feel like summer.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
179 calories, 8.2g fat, $.54 (4 Servings)
119 calories, 5.5g fat, $.36 (6 Servings)

1 1/4 lb potatoes: 440 calories, .6g fat, $.40
2 spring onions: 32 calories, 0g fat, $0.33
1 small handful garlic scapes: 4.2 calories, 0g fat, $1.00
2 tbsp olive oil: 240 calories, 28g fat, $0.16
2 tbsp white wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $.20
1/4 tsp dried dill: negligible calories and fat, $.02
1 tsp salt: negligible calories and fat, $.02
fresh ground pepper: negligible calories and fat, $.02
TOTAL: 716 calories, 32.8g fat, $2.15
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 179 calories, 8.2g fat, $.54
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 119 calories, 5.5g fat, $.36


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