I was asked to include recipes with this photo to submit it to the Recipes to Share Group at Flickr (fun times to be had over there by the way), and in so doing thought I'd share this with y'all as well, just in time for the unofficial first day of summer up here in Canada: the May long weekend. Of course, here in Vancouver it is shaping up to be a rainy one after a truly gorgeous week, but what can you do?
It may be a bit early for these salads yet anyway, as they are really best made with the freshest ingredients, including the first early potatoes of the season. But just writing out the recipes got me excited for summer, picnics and fresh produce. So, if you're feeling the same, take note and as you start to see creamy young potatoes, fresh bunches of arugula and juicy tomatoes at your market, come back and give these a try. Despite my long rambling descriptions, they are very easy to make and also very open to personal interpretation. Both are (or can easily be made) vegan.
** New Potato Salad with Cannelini Beans **
* 2lbs of fresh young new potatoes (approximately... this amount will make enough salad for two people for probably two evenings and maybe still some left overs).
* 1 can of organic cannelini beans, well rinsed.
* 1/2 small red onion diced quite finely (you can also use fresh spring onions, or garlic shoots for this in place of the onion, just adjust your quantity according to the strength of the ingredient).
* 1 large clove of fresh garlic
* 1/2 tablespoon of grainy or dijon mustard
* 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup of nice fruity extra virgin olive oil (if you don't have a particularly flavourful olive oil on hand, then try mixing some cold pressed walnut oil in with your olive oil to add a bit more flavour)
* good pinch of rock salt
* A few good grinds of pepper
1. Chop your potatoes to roughly 1" sized cubes and steam them over fresh water until cooked through but still quite firm (maybe 10 minutes? sorry I typically just keep an eye on them). Once they are done (just test with a fork), give them a quick rinse to stop them from continuing to cook. I typically don't plunge them into a total ice bath as I actually like the effect of the slightly warm potatoes softening the onion a bit.
2. Which lead us to our next point! Transfer your steamed and rinsed potatoes to a bowl (this can be the bowl you will serve the salad in if you don't want to make too many dishes) and add the finely diced onion and rinsed beans. This salad is at its best when the onions are still very young and sweet, if you have older stronger onions you may want to lessen the portion you include or dice them even more finely. Stir that all around so that a bit of the heat radiating from the potatoes gets through the onions and beans.
3. Now in a separate small bowl or mason jar mix the remaining ingredients (excluding the pepper). The one slightly fussy thing I do here is to crush the sea salt into the garlic as I'm chopping it. I seem to remember being told that was a good idea in some cookbook, and ever since I've always done it for vinaigrettes. Otherwise just stir it all together until it is combined (or shake in your jar) and then pour over the potato mixture.
4. Add a few good grind of fresh pepper and you're done!
5. (OPTIONAL) Fresh herbs are also wonderful in this salad. Everything from italian parsley, to fresh dill, basil or even some chopped sorrel. But it also stands up well as described here.
Typically we'll eat it at room temperature the first night and then chilled from the fridge following that. It is one of those dishes that is even better the next day, though I never remember to make it ahead of time.
** Arugula and Tomato Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette **
1 bunch arugula
2 tomatoes or a generous handful (or 2) of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of pesto
1 generous tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
small pinch of salt (optional)
healthy grind of black pepper
1. Wash and tear the arugula and place in bowl.
2. Wash and chop tomatoes into bite sized chuncks (as you'll see here that was simply halving cherry tomatoes).
3. Combine remaining ingredients to make vinaigrette. If you use a store bought pesto you may not want to add any salt to the vinaigrette as I find those are already quite salty, if you use a homemade version (as I do, that doesn't include cheese) then a pinch of sea salt will help bring out the flavours. I've really guessed at the ingredients here, as this is one I typically do by taste. I do try to let the pesto take centre stage and not be overwhelmed by the vinegar, so do be a bit sparing there.