Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Fresh Herb Potato Salad Recipe


What do Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish and dandelion greens have in common? You'll never guess. Each has a name that is an English version of a foreign name. The Jerusalem artichoke is a variety of sunflower, and the name is derived from "girasole" which means sunflower in Italian. Horseradish is "meerrettich" in German and because "meer" sounds like "mare" the English called it horseradish. Dandelion comes from the French "dent de lion" or lion's tooth, in reference to the jagged leaves of this bitter yet tasty weed.

Like horseradish, dandelion has quite a bite to it. It can be eaten raw or cooked and like other leafy greens, it is a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron. But frankly, I'd never cooked with it until this weekend. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe for a potato salad using chopped dandelion greens and I also heard raves about a potato salad with chopped fresh mint, so I decided to combine the two.

Unlike many potato salads, this one uses a vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. As a result, it holds up very well and it was a big hit at the picnic this past weekend. The mint lends a refreshingly summery quality and balances the tang of the dandelion greens but I'm sure other fresh herb combinations would be delicious as well--perhaps chives and taragon or chervil and parsley. Experiment with this one and let me know how it goes.

Fresh Herb Potato Salad
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb red potatoes

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 Tablespoons chopped shallots
Salt & pepper to taste

Handful of fresh mint
Handful of fresh dandelion greens

Instructions

Boil a big pot of water with a good couple teaspoons of salt (the water should taste like sea water) Cut the larger potatoes into pieces or halves as close as possible to the same size as the smaller red potatoes and add them to the water when it boils. Cook the potatoes until they just fall off the blade of a knife when you pierce them. You don't want them too mushy or too firm. (I find it takes about 15 minutes or so, but it will depend on how many you cook and how large they are) When cooked through, drain them and when cool enough to handle cut into chunks. You can peel them if you wish. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and pour over the potatoes while still warm. Season with salt and pepper once the salad has cooled slightly, then refrigerate. Right before serving, roughly chop the mint and dandelion greens and toss lightly or layer with the potatoes. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!