The little heat wave we were having last week broke, and the rain has come, turning the garden into a lush, green wonderland that makes me feel a little like Mary Lennox. Our garden plot is small and ramshackle with a fallen fence that runs through it. There is a kiwi bush which is taking over the grape arbour, a plum tree is becoming overgrown with bindweeds, and fig trees are casting so much shade on my poor struggling herb garden that it’s in constant darkness.
Yet each day I go outside and tend to the garden, pulling the weeds that will soon be back before I even come inside. I chat to our 80 year old Greek landlady who tells me (usually in Greek, which I don’t speak) about her tomato plants and the garden she used to keep in the same plot back when her sons still lived at home and her husband was alive. Out of the corner of my eye I can see her look disapprovingly at my endless row upon row of kale and shake her head. I grimace a little not knowing how to respond.
Tucked away in one little corner of the yard, there is a chive plant which comes back year after year. I noticed it last spring when the other tenants used the garden, and I was sure not to disturb it when I turned over the dirt this year. I think about it often. How long it’s been there, who planted it, and how thankful I am for all the joy it’s already given me in the last month alone. Maybe it was there back when my landlady used to feed her family from this garden. Maybe it was hers.
I love picking the flowers from it and adding them my savoury dishes this time of year. The punch of purple brightens up my normally yellow or brown dishes giving them a vibrancy and a spring aroma. The little patch has guided my culinary journey this spring, encouraging me to make soups, and sauces, and this potato salad, which I probably wouldn’t have made otherwise.
There’s that old Simpsons quote about not being able to make friends with salad, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking about this potato salad. Making easy and fuss-free food is what I’m all about come this time of year. In the winter, it’s no biggy to spend all day making a fancy lasagna, or a soup that needs to simmer for 6 hours, but come the warm sunny days of June, I want to be inside as little as possible.
This German style olive oil based potato salad is a classic for me, and one that we had every summer growing up (on rotation with salad niçoise and aioli with crudités). It’s ready in under 15 minutes, good hot, cold, or room temp, and unlike other potato salads that are loaded up with mayo, you don’t have to worry about it sitting in the sun nearly as much. This for me is the ultimate meal to take with you to the beach, or sit outside on the patio when the evening light grows dim and the patio lights begin to sparkle. It pairs perfectly with BBQ (like grilled portobellos), rustic pieces of rosemary focaccia, and garlicky caesar salads.
In the last few weeks of being a BBQ owner, we’ve enjoyed this salad several times as a accompaniment to our grilled veggies and burgers. If you’re looking to switch things up a bit, try adding asparagus instead of the green beans, or toss in some fresh sweet peas. If you don’t do potatoes (I know there are a lot of you out there), try using steamed golden beets instead, or even sunchokes.
WARM POTATO SALAD WITH HERBS
Serves 4. Print Recipe Here
900 Grams (2 Lbs) Waxy or New Potatoes, Scrubbed
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Grainy Mustard
1/4 Cup Chopped Dill
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives (Optional)
1/2 Cup Diced, Shallot
1/2 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Green Onion, Chopped
150 Grams (5.5 oz) Green Beans (or a nice big handful)
Chive Blossoms for Garnish, or Chopped Chives
- Chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces (I cut them into rough quarters). Get a large pot of salted water to the boil. When it’s rapidly boiling add the potatoes and cook them just until they are fork tender (be careful not to let them go mushy) – this might be around ten minutes depending on the size of your cut.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat a pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add a splash of oil and add the green beans. Sautee them for a few minutes, until they turn bright green. Add 1 Tbsp. of water, then cover the pan quickly to trap the steam. Let them cook for about two-three minutes. You want them to be cooked but still have a crispness.
- Next make the dressing. In your serving bowl combine the garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir to combine. Next add the herbs, onions, and capers, along with the beans.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the serving bowl. Toss to dress. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Serve the salad warm or refrigerate for later.