asparagus and red potato salad
We like asparagus a lot. Of course it wasn't always that way. dr bob doesn't remember
ever eating it as a kid. Fresh or frozen. In fact it was way into adulthood that he became
vaguely aware of this usually overpriced vegetable that people apparently just had to have
in season. Eventually he started having it too. There wasn't anything immediately grabbing
about it. But as time passed, it became more and more valued. He began reading various
ways of preparing the stuff. He bought one of those tall narrow pots that aren't good for
anything else but asparagus. Without any clear moment of revelation, dr bob found himself
among(st) the converteda full fledged member of the asparagus lovers society.
dr bob also compulsively collects recipes. Cookbooks, cooking magazines, women and
fashion magazine articles, and newspaper FOOD sections. Any category alone represents an
information overload, but noncookbook categories have a sort of natural window of
opportunity for overloading, so that any particularly interesting item, even if tagged in
some way, gets lost in the growing stockpile of paper-based media on which it comes. This
particular asparagus recipe got clipped from the paper and entered its temporary
still-lying-around-in-plain-sight period before being committed to the archives. Amazingly
enough the right combination of circumstances involving a surprise Sunday afternoon visit
by a brother-in-law gave us the excuse to try it out and we all loved it. Enough to tell
other people about it. So here's how it goes.
|1 1/2 t garlic, minced
|2 1/4 t Dijon mustard
|6 T balsamic vinegar
|1 c (-1T) extra virgin olive oil
|2 lbs small red potatoes (about 2in diameter) cleaned but not peeled
|2 lbs fresh asparagus
|1/2 c chopped scallions, including 2in green stems
|black pepper, freshly ground
|1 head Boston lettuce, leaves washed and dried
|Boston lettuce? What is it? We skipped it the first time, but used 3
red leaf lettuce leaves the 2nd time, finely chopped.
|1 head radicchio, leaves washed and dried
|We chopped it the first time, forgot it the 2nd time.
|1/4 c chopped parsley or chives or combination
|We forgot this the first time, replaced it with 1/2 c chopped green of
leak, sprinkling of freeze dried chives.
- Place garlic, mustard, vinegar, and 3/4 t salt in a nonaluminum bowl and
Gradually whisk in olive oil. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated,
but really, how much time would that save?)
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil and add potatoes and 1 T salt. Cook until potatoes are
tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well. Cut potatoes into
quarters, then halve the quarters.
- Cut and discard tough ends from asparagus stalks. With vegetable peeler, peel stalks,
starting just below the tips. Cut stalks on diagonal into 2 in pieces. Bring 4 quarts of
water to boil and add 2 t salt and asparagus. Boil until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in
colander and refresh under cold running water. Pat dry. (Both potatoes and asparagus can
be prepared several hours ahead, covered loosely with plastic wrap and left at room
- When ready to serve, toss potatoes, asparagus and scallions in bowl. Heat dressing over
medium heat until hot. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange border of alternating lettuce and radicchio leaves on serving plate. Mound salad
on leaves and sprinkle with parsley. Makes 8 servings. [We just served it all mixed up.]
- We had something similar to this at the Philadelphia
Restaurant School, which added inspiration to try it. We had a couple great meals
there years ago, but seem to have too much inertia to return. Must make a note about that.
- THE ARUGULA MAKEOVER.
Ten years later we are cutting down on carbs to help ani lose a few pounds. We see a piece
on the South Beach Diet and the cardiologist who wrote the book and he actually sounds
sensible and honest. The next day bob is thinking a salad with chunks of potato (not a
lot, low carb remember?) and veggies, and some tuna on the grill pan, rare inside. Trader
Joe's provides us with the small red potato chunks and garlic all ready to go (intended
product use: garlic mashed potatoes) and since they have to be cooked, the hot potato
salad idea naturally emerges, so we consult this recipe for ingredients on hand. Oops,
that last bit of green onion gone. Only 3 leftover asparagus stalks and a half jar of baby
asparagus (ready-for-use). We'd also grabbed a bag of triple washed baby arugula at Trader
Joe's (how do they guess what we want so well?) to replace the greens, since we have been
on an arugula trip lately. We start with a handful, tossed into our newly acquired
inverted flat topped square pyramid shaped Crate and Barrel salad dish. And by now we have
high end balsamic vinegar on hand for the dressing: we settle on about a third of the
dressing ingredient amounts since this is only for the two of us, whisked together in our
brand new 1 quart stainless All Clad saucier waiting to be heated. Only whole grained
Dijon mustard is available and turns out to be an improvement. We throw in a medium
tomato, chopped, into the salad bowl that is. Then the chopped remnant asparagus. Ani cuts
up a few fresh white mushrooms, into the mix they go. A handful of baby French string
beans get steamed. The potatoes are done, heat turned off. Ready to do the tuna, salt and
pepper, olive oil, ani takes care of that end. Meanwhile we heat the dressing. Dump in the
drained warm potatoes, then the crisp green beans chopped into inch long pieces. The
chopped tomato. Then the heated dressing. Grind a little fresh pepper into it. We toss
until evenly distributed. The tuna is done. We thinly slice it and serve. Yes. A keeper.
[A real chef would have wiped down the sides of the salad bowl,
the balsamic vinegar dressing looks quite messy, eh?]
- Maybe we should write ourselves a big note on the fridge to try to return to the
Restaurant School this next decade since we never made it back this past one either.
On our summer Rome exit food shopping spree this year (six years later), we
picked up a new product that seems to be spreading in the Italian supermarket
scene: flavored balsamic glaze. We got the truffle flavor. Back at home we
needed some trial recipe to include it in, and some leftover cooked asparagus in
the fridge brought this old recipe to mind. We just needed some potatoes.
Unfortunately we did not consult the recipe before hitting the supermarket, so
we neglected to buy fresh parsley that we would have added if only we had
planned ahead. We decided against the lettuce even though we had some on hand.
The balsamic glaze we tested on a piece of bread first to assess its strength.
Pretty sweet, so we were very sparing in using it. Seems like we struck just the
|1 large garlic clove, minced
|2 t Dijon mustard
|1 t truffle flavored balsamic glaze
|Be careful here, taste test.
|1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
|4 medium Yukon gold potatoes cleaned but not peeled
|3/4 lb fresh asparagus
|1 chopped scallion, including green stem
| This was all we had left in the fridge. But don't overdo
this...maybe a few more.
|black pepper, freshly ground
|1/4 c chopped parsley or chives or combination
|We forgot to buy this so we included a bit of chopped fresh
- Prepare fresh asparagus like you always do. Cool and chop into 3/4 inch
pieces. This can be done ahead of time or even incorporated warm.
- Wash the potatoes and boil whole for some 20 minutes until cooked but
still firm. Then peel if you like and then cut into small bite-sized cubes
- Meanwhile put the dressing stuff in the small plastic chopper attachment
to a hand blender and blend until smooth. Taste test it to see if it could
improve by adding more of some ingredient.
- Clean and chop finely the scallion(s).
- Repeat for the fresh parsley, if you have any.
- When the potatoes are ready, put all the ingredients into a large bowl
with some fresh pepper and gently coat evenly the veggies with the dressing.
- The front side tri-lingual label from Collitali (the fashion food factory)
Glassa Gourmet a base di aceto balsamico di Modena al tartufo,
Gourmet Glaze based of balsamic vinegar of Modena with truffle,
Creme Gourmet, a base de vinaigre balsamique de Modene a la truffe.
Product of Italy:
http://www.collinatoscana.it. [La Collina Toscana is the company name.]
The back side had the ingredients listed in 4 languages including German and
a little tag: "the Italian ketchup."
- Finally a high resolution photo, more
megapixels as the century progresses.