We spent a long afternoon last week at our friend's farm, where we dug potatoes and left for home with a bagful of loot. I ogled over his tractor and acres of flat ground. The boys, meantime, ran through soft dirt in bare feet, feeling for tubers with their toes.
Among them were these Peruvian purple beauties. They are not only gorgeous outside (who knew, until we washed them?!), but luscious inside—perfect for a steaming in a seaside clambake. Perhaps it's because of my Irish roots, or maybe just because something so humble can be so nimble, but I love potatoes. The fact that these look like moody Easter eggs makes them all the more wondrous.
Onto the point: The meal we made from these simple ingredients is one of my favorites of all time. Truth be told, I'm a simple cook. But I love great food. So I'm at my happiest when we can stroll the the garden, pick (and nibble) beans and herbs, grab a plump head of our garlic, pile up day-old potatoes, and march inside. I know a great meal is coming, with little toil from me.
This recipe is one I call warm potato salad or Poor Girl's Nicoise, based loosely on one by my Australian muse, Donna Hay. It is wonderfully inexpensive, filling and soul-warming, all at once. It's on heavy rotation here because it's great when you've got the garden goods and when your pantry feels bare.
- Warm, cooked potatoes, sliced thickly
- Green beans, trimmed and blanched
- A few herbs like parsley, summer savory or oregano
- A can of tuna (I didn't have any on hand on this day, but I usually do. Of course, fresh tuna would be divine.
For the genius vinaigrette:
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons seeded mustard (if you don't have any—and I often don't—I just use dijon and toss in a spoonful of mustard seeds; they are the key to its interesting texture)
Stack several slices of potato in a wide bowl (I choose a bowl over a plate, any day). Scoop chunks of tuna—about half a can per person—onto the pile. Then, lay a handful of green beans and herbs on top. In a separate, little bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar and mustard, and a bit of salt and pepper. Generously drizzle the vinaigrette over each.
Now, dig in. And tell me if it isn't the most surprisingly yummy meal you've eaten—maybe ever.