First weekday lunch post in a while, and this one I’m sharing with gusto. I’ve eaten this salad on and off for two weeks. It’s a keeper, definitely going into the regular rotation. -r
I must confess, I’ve underestimated the potato.
I guess I thought they were just starchy orbs to be boiled or steamed or mashed or fried, then stuffed silly with butter or cheese. For most of my life, they’ve been vehicles for fat, salt, or sauce. And hey, I’m definitely not complaining about french fries or fluffy, buttery mashed taters. But as vegetables, I’ve never given them much thought.
A couple experiences over the past couple weeks have opened my eyes. One was when I took my grandma to Palena for the first time. Grandma loves good food (this you may know) and at Palena, that’s just what you get. (This you also may know.) Case in point: a salad of young potatoes – tiny, darling things – dressed simply with house mustard. And nothing else. Last year, you couldn’t have paid me to eat something called potato salad – let alone get me to pay for it. But lo, there the potato salad went. Straight down the craw. These potatoes – they were baby fingerlings – were yellow, soft, and creamy as can be. Also, they tasted fresh. There’s a word I never thought I’d use to describe a potato.
Then there was Saturday lunch at Beth and Jeremy’s, who are sources of great cooking ideas very, very often. That Saturday, Jeremy served a smoked trout, which I had eyed and then passed over at Cannon’s. Jeremy was smart enough to buy the thing, and even smarter to serve it flaked alongside another stunning potato salad. What was happening? Why was everyone making potato salad amazing? Did I secretly love potato salad all these years? Had I been foolishly depriving myself? Not exactly. Still no mayo-coated taters for me, thanks. But fresh baby fingerlings dressed with mustard and herbs, apparently, are delicious. I even had a second helping. And that trout: wow. It was good. It was smoky and salty, the perfect compliment to those clean, smooth potatoes.
Here’s how you know I was hooked: I went to Cannon’s first thing Tuesday and bought two of those trout (they’re $6 a piece and freeze beautifully). I went to Jeremy’s potato guy at Tree and Leaf at the Dupont market and stocked up on fingerlings. (I’ve now done this three times and tried every variety of fingerlings he sells; if you’re curious, buy a mixed bag and try them all for yourself.) And in the past couple weeks, I’ve made the salad I’m posting today oh, five times. D thinks I’m a nutcase. Also a copycat. She’s totally right: I can’t get enough, and I’m a textbook copycat. And you know what? We’re eating like royalty.
Green Bean-Potato Salad with Smoked Trout
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side/app
I love the combination of creamy potatoes, bright, fresh green beans, and smoked trout. Beans and potatoes are both at the height of their season now; this salad tastes of pure summer.
1 lb. small fingerlings, as fresh as you can get them, scrubbed clean
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 8-oz. smoked trout
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons favorite mustard
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Prep the vegetables: Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
When water is boiling, add fingerlings to the pot and cook for 7-10 minutes, until a fork or knife inserted into one of the potatoes meets little resistance. You don’t want to overcook the potatoes, especially if they’re young. Check often. When done, transfer potatoes to ice bath to cool, reserving the boiling water.
Transfer the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Transfer to the ice bath to cool.
Prep the trout: remove skin, and transfer bite-sized pieces of the fish onto a plate, taking care to remove the spine and any stray bones as you work.
Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, mix mustard, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until combined. Add oil in a steady stream while whisking, until vinaigrette is fully emulsified. Taste and adjust salt/pepper as desired.
Transfer potatoes, green beans, and herbs to a bowl and toss with some of the dressing. Taste, and add more dressing as necessary. At this point, you can serve the salad in the bowl with the trout on the side, arrange the vegetables and trout on a serving platter, or plate individual composed salads for your guests. Be sure to serve some extra dressing on the side if the trout is served separately.