How can one not be inspired by summer’s bounty? I’m like a kid in a candy shop whenever I visit a farmers’ market these days as I easily get overwhelmed by all the fresh produce: berries, fruit, vegetables, herbs... So much goodness! I’m lucky to live within a short walking distance of not only one but two farmers’ markets, so I try to find my way to them several times a week. You almost never see me leaving without a bagful of green peas (I eat them raw – one of the best things I know), some local strawberries while still in season (they're amazing at the moment), and new potatoes (cause I just can't get enough of their lovely, delicate flavor). Also, I’m addicted to the sweet-like-candy cherry tomatoes that an old lady sells at her stall every summer. They are the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted, and I never miss the chance to tell her that.
I buy what looks fresh and vibrant, what inspires me the most. When you have great produce at hand, you don’t need to do much to them anymore. Rather, let the textures, flavors, and colors speak their own language. That's my summer cooking philosophy.
Potato salad has always been a summer staple out our home. It's the perfect side dish to accompany grilled meat or fish without having to spend too much time in the kitchen. To be honest, I often make salads on the porch. That way I don't have the feeling I'm trapped inside missing all the fun. Potato salad is also what I most often get asked to bring with me to a summer potluck with friends or family. It's a crowd-pleaser and we rarely end up having leftovers. You would never see mayonnaise in my potato salads as I like to prepare them the way it's done back home in southern Germany with a simple vinaigrette. In this recipe, I added some dijon mustard to the vinaigrette as well as honey which may not be traditional but definitely delicious. Feel free to play around with different vegetables and herbs; use what's in season, what inspires you, or what simply make your mouth water.
I’m keeping it short today as the sun is shining so brightly outside and it would be a waste to spend more time sitting here in front of the laptop telling you how wonderful summer evenings are. Go outside, soak up the sun while it's still shining so gleefully! That's exactly what I'm going to do right now.
Summer Potato Salad
serves 6 as a side
This salad can be prepared in advance. If doing so, add the radishes, peas, and herbs just before serving or they'll lose their color and/or wilt. You may also need to add some more vinaigrette before serving as the potatoes will probably soak up most of it. Furthermore, if you decide to make the salad in advance, I would let the potatoes cool completely before adding the other vegetables and herbs; you can, however, add the vinaigrette while the potatoes are still warm.
1 kg (2 lb) new potatoes (preferably small ones), scrubbed
2 small cucumbers (I love to use Kirby cucumbers), sliced
1 red scallion, sliced
1 small bunch of pink radishes, cut into sticks
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, preferably in several colors, cut into wedges
2 ½ dl (1 cup) shelled green peas
a bunch of fresh herbs, such as dill, chive, or parsley, roughly chopped
For the vinaigrette
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
a drizzle of honey or agave nectar
fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Put the pot back to the stove top and let sit for a while to absorb any water that may still cling to the potatoes and potentially make them soggy. Let the potatoes cool a bit. Halve or slice the potatoes, depending on their size. [note: New potatoes usually have only a very thin skin. Therefore, I prefer them unpeeled.] Add to a big bowl.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the still warm potatoes and mix to combine.
Boil the green peas in salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under ice cold water to stop them from cooking further as well as to help them keep their bright color.
Add everything to the dressed potatoes and toss gently. Serve with grilled fish or meat.