If you read this blog often or know me personally, you’re likely aware that I’m enchanted by fresh produce. Vegetables and fruit are the base of every recipe on this blog, as well as the base of my diet, and it gives me great pleasure to make vegetables taste like a million bucks. A lot of the time this can be done simply with salt and olive oil or butter, but others need a little more help. I’m not one to sit down to a bowl of plain lettuce; I crave flavour and some vegetables need a lift, namely, potatoes.
Yes, potatoes are lovely this time of year, all tender, non-starchy, thin-skinned, and creamy––delicious, right? Well, I often find them bland. It’s all in the preparation for me. The Roasted Lemons, Potatoes, Radishes, and Olives recipe I gave you last week had what I needed: sour, sweet, tender, crispy, salty––I ask a lot from the humble spud.
I want to treat all vegetables equally. I want to be an equal opportunity vegetable-focused home cook. I want to love potatoes. Alas, most potato dishes leave me feeling like I’d rather have eaten something different, like a sweet potato, for instance.
There are two exceptions to my unenthusiastic position on potato dishes: crispy-roasted or potato salad. The latter I enjoy warm or cold, from creamy to oil-based to the gloppy one I grew up with that lodged in your throat so you had to keep water handy. Small doses, but potato salad rightly deserves a place on the plate.
Even I, the potato skeptic, ate this as a main course for dinner, acting as a testament to how enjoyable it is. The secret lies in the contrasting flavours and textures: spicy arugula, piney rosemary, meaty lentils, local (extremely pungent) garlic, fruity olive oil, and more vinegar than you think you need. Then lemon at the table (have I mentioned lemon and potatoes go hand in hand?). Do not fear acidulation when it comes to potatoes!
If you can’t find the tricoloured potatoes I used here, regular yellow fingerlings or small roasters will work just the same. Let’s be honest, the ones I employed look quite pretty, but they all taste identical.
One last note, and it’s an important one: If you cook for one, and I encourage you to do so (“Because you’re worth it,” as the commercial says), I would suggest cutting the recipe in half. I’m only saying this as I was eating potato salad for one too many days. My potato consumption has its limits, after all.
Actually, one more note: It’s my 28th birthday today. Let’s celebrate with some potato salad, shall we?
- 1 pound baby new potatoes or fingerling potatoes, any colour
- ½ cup uncooked brown lentils or lentils du puy (French green lentils)
- 2 large handfuls arugula (rocket), torn if very large
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- In a medium saucepan, cover lentils with 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain well. Add to a large bowl. Meanwhile, steam the potatoes.
- Add potatoes to a steamer basket; steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and cut in half. Add to lentils.
- Add remaining ingredients to lentils and potatoes, mixing gently until fully incorporated (I recommend using your hands). Taste and season with additional vinegar or salt if required. Serve warm, room temperature, or chill and serve cold with lemon wedges