Editor's note: While taking a blog hiatus seems to be all the rage these days, I'm not trying to be trendy. Life, work and everything else has gotten in the way these past couple of weeks, and I have had to put Hedonia on a back burner. I hope to resume more regular posts now. Back to our previously scheduled wine country picnic.
Stepping up the absorption quotient of our wine-soaked picnic, potato salad seemed like a natural choice. After all, potato salad is American picnic food royalty, a default selection for any outdoor meal. But as we were going to be in the sun on a warm day, I really didn't want to go down the mayonnaise route. Sun plus heat plus mayonnaise equals yuck. Plus, I'm not really a mayonnaise kinda guy to begin with.
And anyway, I rather prefer a simple potato-green bean salad lightly dressed with vinaigrette. It's light and refreshing, and doesn't coat the palate with a creamy film. This sort of salad is pretty widespread, and the recipe is simple enough, but I took a cue from Elise and tossed the potatoes while hot in vermouth to infuse them with flavor before dressing the salad. Definitely makes a significant impact on the final product. The tarragon in the dressing plays nicely with the herbal notes in the vermouth, too.
In general, I don't love red potatoes, but they are exactly the right choice for this salad. Small creamers are waxy enough to retain their shape, yet take on a wonderfully creamy texture (hence the name) when cooked and cooled. Plus, the color of the skins adds great contrast against the white centers and green beans.
Herbed green bean-potato salad
2 lb red creamer potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths if they are large
1 lb green beans, cut into 1" lengths
1/4 c. dry (white) vermouth
Blanche green beans in boiling water until just tender, about two minutes. Strain and set aside in a large bowl. Cook potatoes in well-salted boiling water until knife-tender but not falling apart. Strain and toss with the green beans and vermouth, season liberally with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
1/4 c. sherry vinegar or other good, light vinegar
1/4 c. good extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp rustic Dijon mustard
2-3 Tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, sugar and tarragon together until well combined. Add the olive oil in a drizzle, whisking constantly, until fully emulsified. Add salt or pepper to taste.
Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat, turning gently so as not to damage the potatoes. Let rest for a couple hours in the fridge, or make well ahead. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
One year ago today ... Le sigh: Chez Papa