Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greens with Potatoes Salad

The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge

Potatoes, MMMMMMMMM, mmmmmmmm. I love them roasted, baked, twice-baked, boiled, steamed, fried, peeled, unpeeled, mashed, smashed, chunked or whole. But I can pass up potatoes wearing a heavy blanket of mayonnaise dressing. Too often that’s the case with potato salads - very heavy with too much goop that overwhelms the flavor balance.

Even warm German potato salad, a tasty no-mayo favorite with its tangy vinegary coating, is a weighty dish. Green salad with dressed potatoes is a solution better suited to my palate. It’s a personal preference. RL requests that his sauced potatoes not touch any leafy greens, so his would be the deconstructed version, plated with a mound of greens and a mound of potatoes and space in between.

Our basic house recipe calls for a simple vinaigrette flavored with tarragon, garlic, fresh parsley and chives and a smidgin of dijon mustard. Use the dressing with the greens, and to lightly coat thin slices or small chunks of warm, cooked potatoes. Add some sliced green onions and a bit more parsley and presto! it’s heavenly. We love it… and then I found the following recipe in my Yummy Potatoes cookbook by Marlena Spieler.

Oh my, here’s a new contender for number one greens with ‘tater salad honors. The DaringCooks Challenge for June pushed me into experimenting with a Salade Tiede recipe, messing around with ingredients and taste testing with enthusiasm. Blue cheese? OK, but I prefer a mild feta or no cheese at all. Crispy bacon chunks? Terrific, of course, if used with restraint. Roasted garlic mashed with some butter? Wow! really good as a substitute for the bacon. Coarse-ground Plochman’s mustard or light honey-Dijon? They both work, just don’t use yellow hot dog mustard. Frisee, mixed greens or romaine? Use whatever’s available, though frisee has a nice bite and it is the most attractive, holding up well with the potatoes and dressing. The DC Challenge is for a healthy potato salad, so my use of bacon or butter is problematic. Too bad. It's my galley so I'm working with boat rules.

Here is the latest version, though it is still a recipe under development (depending on what's in the pantry). Don't be confused by the choice of bacon or butter and garlic. Try it both ways and see which you prefer. Either choice yields a delicious potato salad.

 Greens with Potatoes Salad 
Inspired by Salade Tiede from Yummy Potatoes by Marlena Spieler
"Browned nuggets of bacon, tender bites of potato, crunchy bitter greens, and tangy, very tangy warm dressing..."

Serves 4

12 ounces small red potatoes
1 head frisee or other lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces (I used romaine)
2 green onions, thinly sliced, green and white parts
a scattering of feta or blue cheese, cut into small half-bite morsels (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon mild German or Dijon mustard (I used both grainy German and honey-Dijon)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or seasoned rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried (dried)
4 slices lean diced bacon (or skip the bacon and go with 1/2 bulb roasted garlic mashed into 2 tablespoons butter)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped 
Lemon zest and lemon juice to top

1.  Parboil the potatoes until almost cooked through. Drain and set aside.
2.  Spread the greens on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the green oniions, cheese if used, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
3.  Combine the mustard, vinegar and tarragon; set aside.
4.  When the potatoes are cooler but still warm, cut into 1/2 inch slices.
5.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a large, nonstick heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlicky butter and let it melt 
(OR  skip the garlic and butter, add the bacon pieces and crisp them up a bit),
then push to the side. Add the potatoes in a thin layer and brown over medium-high heat, turning a few times to brown evenly.
6.  Meanwhile drizzle half the mustard vinegar over the salad.
7.  Push the potatoes (and bacon) to one side of the pan, and add the remaining mustard vinegar. Reduce by half over high heat, turning the potatoes once or twice.
8.  Pour the potatoes with the bit of reduced dressing left in the pan over the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, top with parsley, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired. Serve immediately, while the potatoes and dressing are still warm. 
Then sit back and wait for the raves! Let me know the variations you come up with.

Note: I'll be cruising somewhere in Alaska when this post is due to be published. Internet access is scarce in between towns, so I cooked ahead for this DC Challenge. Check out our cruising adventures on the other blog, CruiseNews.

Blog checking note: Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

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