22 June 2012
Garden update: potato and green bean vinaigrette
I planted some fingerling potatoes this March. The tender vines and leaves ended up being a total magnet for small gnawing pests, but I managed to keep one plant alive. When that last vine started to die back, I figured it was a loss--until I pulled it up and found a bunch of tiny baby potatoes! Further scrabbling revealed an increasing number of tiny marble-like fingerlings. I ended up with a good handful. Hooray!
I didn't really have enough potatoes to eat by themselves, so I combined them with with a few farmer's market yukon golds and made them into one of my favorite summer salads: potato and green bean vinaigrette.
Potato and green bean vinaigrette
white wine vinegar
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil.
Scrub your potatoes well, removing any eyes and peeling off any green skin or flesh. You can peel off all the skin if you prefer; I like to eat the skin, personally. Dice them into chunks roughly an inch square.
Put your potatoes in the pot of water, slap on the lid, bring the water back up to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and tender.
While your potatoes are cooking, wash, top and tail, and chop your green beans into inch-long chunks.
Also, make your vinaigrette. Crush and finely mince a clove of garlic. Whisk with a couple teaspoons of white wine vinegar, a big spoonful of dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper. If you want to add chopped fresh herbs to this mix, feel free; fresh oregano is particularly good. Next, add olive oil to your dressing in a thin, gradual stream, whisking the entire time. The oil will emulsify with the vinegar and mustard mix to create a creamy dressing. Maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil should do it.
When your dressing looks good, taste and it correct any seasonings. Vinaigrette is really personal--some people love lots of garlic or mustard, or can't stand too much vinegar--so adjust it according to your tastes.
When your potatoes are tender, cook your green beans. You can do this in a couple ways. First, you can steam your beans in a basket that fits over your potato pot. This is a good option if you want to keep the beans separate, so you can shock them in cold water to set the color when they're finished cooking. Second, you can simply put all the beans into the boiling water with the potatoes. This is a good option if, like me, you don't want to bother washing two pans. In either case, cook your beans for about five minutes, or until done to your taste.
Drain your finished potatoes and beans well. Give your vinaigrette a final whisk and pour it over the hot vegetables. Gently fold to distribute the dressing before you taste and correct the seasonings. The hot potatoes and beans will soak up some of the liquids, so you may need to add an extra drizzle of olive oil if things look too dry.
This salad is good either hot or cold, and it's certainly filling. It can take an amazing amount of additions: cooked crumbled bacon, diced hard-boiled egg, scallions, radishes, practically any herb you desire, and dots of sriracha sauce or sambal oelek will all work well. You can mix up the dressing with different vinegars, buttermilk, or big spoonfuls of yogurt. You can eat it by itself, on top of a whack of salad greens, with a grilled cheese sandwich, or as a side at a barbecue. And, of course, the leftovers are excellent straight out of the fridge for a summer morning's breakfast.