Sunday, May 18, 2014

Potato Salad with Spring Herb Pesto & Peas

Dinner tonight:  hamburgers on the grill for the first time since last fall.  To go with them: potato salad.  But this was no ordinary potato salad.  Instead, I prepared an adaptation of a recipe I have been eyeing in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty for some time now.   Tossed with a loose pesto of mixed herbs...and was beautiful, simple and delicious.  The perfect accompaniment for those first grilled burgers of the year.   

Potato Salad with Spring Herb Pesto & Peas

2 eggs
1 1/4 lbs. small or new potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 t. white wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2/3 c. shelled peas
1 c. (loosely packed) arugula (about 1 oz.)
1/4 c. (packed) flat parsley leaves (1/4 oz.)
1/4 c. (packed) mint leaves (1/4 oz.)
1 clove garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c. (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan
1/2 c. olive oil

Pesto ingredients....

Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain and refresh in cold water.  Peel and set aside.

Scrub the potatoes and place in a saucepan large enough to hold in a single layer.  Cover with cold water, salt the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender to the tip of a knife but not falling apart.  Drain and let cool just until you are able to handle them.  If using true new potatoes, simply halve or quarter the potatoes (to get 3/4- to 1-inch chunks).  If using a small store bought potato, the skins will likely be tough.  If so, remove the skin by pulling it away from the potato with the help of a paring knife.  Cut the potatoes into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces.  Drizzle the potatoes with vinegar while they are still warm and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to distribute the vinegar and seasoning. 

Blanch the peas in boiling salted water until tender—about 4 minutes.  Drain and refresh under cold running water.  If fresh peas aren't available, use frozen.  There is no need to boil frozen peas....simply thaw.  Set aside.

While the potatoes, peas and eggs cook, make the pesto:  Place all of the herbs, garlic, pine nuts and cheese in the food processor and process until finely chopped, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add the oil and process.  You should have a runny pesto.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Ready to put it all together...

To finish the salad, add the peas to the potatoes.  Pour the pesto over and fold to distribute.  It's OK if the potatoes start to fall apart.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt & pepper.   Cut the eggs into rough, half inch pieces.  Add to the bowl and fold in.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with parsley or mint chiffonade, if you like.  Serves 4.

  • The original recipe used a small waxy new potato called Jersey Royals...but you may use any new potato you prefer.  I used Melissa's Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.  New potatoes should be lightly scrubbed, but not peeled.  The Baby Dutch potatoes had tough skins and needed to be peeled.
  • Ottolenghi's original recipe called for quail eggs (10 for this size recipe), soft cooked (30 seconds from the boil) and halved.
  • The original recipe used basil and parsley in the pesto and added a shower of finely shredded sorrel or mint to the finished salad.
  • This salad was delicious with hamburgers.  It would be a wonderful accompaniment to roast or grilled lamb.
(Recipe adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Printable Recipe

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