A Winter Potato Salad

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I absolutely love cooking with the seasons. It seems like the only way to cook, in spite of our modern American grocery stores supplying us year round with just about every fruit and vegetable that we demand. I’m so stubborn about this, I can’t even remember when I last bought a tomato, although I do purchase cherry tomatoes in the winter.

The concept is smart – stemming from the peasant way of preparing food, which involved using what you raised and what grew around you, whether you lived amongst olive groves in Italy, or on the coast of Greece. But it’s also a more fun way to cook. Cooking the same dishes using the same ingredients for me would get so boring month after month. It’s also less expensive using in-season produce.

I was recently at a hip, small-plates and shared-plates restaurant, and one of the vegetable offerings was asparagus. I, of course, had to make a comment about it not being in season, which was most likely met with silent snickers. In the end, I was outvoted. And it was terrible. Well, not terrible, but you could tell it wasn’t just-picked springtime asparagus. It may have been grown in a greenhouse nearby, but there’s still a difference.

In any case, because I cook seasonally, I bring you a winter version of potato salad. It contains red potatoes, Polish sausage, and Gruyere with a creamy vinaigrette, served at room temperature.

A few months ago I published a late summer potato salad with corn, because corn was abundant. I love creating seasonally different potato salads. Why not?!! In fact, they can end up being a meal, instead of a side.

So this is what I did.

Winter Potato Salad with Kielbasa and Gruyere

Salad:
8 small red potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces Polska Kielbasa, or Polish Sausage, sliced
1 large shallot, diced
8 ounces diced Gruyere, at room temperature

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Creamy dressing:
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yogurt, sour cream, or half and half
Approximately 1/3-1/2 cup prepared dressing*

To begin, quarter the potatoes and steam them until they’re just tender, or about 8 minutes. This, of course, depends on the size of your potato pieces. You just don’t want them so soft that they fall apart.

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Let the potatoes cool in the steamer basket. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, half and half or whatever product you want to make the vinaigrette creamy.

Then whisk in the vinaigrette. You can make it creamier, with a smaller amount of the vinaigrette, or stronger with more. It’s up to you.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over high heat and brown the sausage slices on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, place the sausage in a small bowl and set aside.

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Just for fun and flavor, I gently tossed the cooling potatoes in the remaining oil in the skillet. Then I placed them in a medium-sized bowl.

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Add about 1/4 cup of the creamy vinaigrette to the potatoes and toss gently. Set the bowl aside so the potatoes can cool further. However, if later you see that the potatoes have absorbed all of the vinaigrette, add a little more, or a little olive oil and toss gently.

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When the potatoes have completely cooled, add the sausage and about half of the diced shallot and stir gently. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Regarding the Gruyere, you can toss it in to the potato-sausage mixture, or sprinkle the dice on top just before serving, which is what I did. Just don’t add the cheese too early or it will melt. The texture of the room temperature cheese is a nice texture compliment with the potatoes and sausage.

Then sprinkle the remaining shallots and some parsley, if desired, for color.

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* The vinaigrette I used I’d prepared with olive oil and a combination of apple cider and balsamic vinegars. It also contained a little Dijon mustard, which goes so well when sausage is involved. I don’t typically toss any kind of salads with balsamic vinegar, because of the dark brown color; I tend to offer balsamic on its own. However, because the balsamic was cut with the apple cider vinegar, plus the mayo and half and half, it wasn’t too brown.

Late Summer Potato Salad

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I grew up with what’s typically referred to here in the states as “German” potato salad. Instead of mayonnaise as the binder with the cooked potatoes, I was only familiar with an oil and vinegar dressing instead. I’m a huge fan of mayonnaise, and “traditional” potato salads, but I still prefer my potato salads with a vinaigrette.

Over the years I’ve made all kinds of potato salads, as you can imagine. If you cook like I do, you have as well, being creative with ingredients. I’ve added tomatoes, olives, roasted red bell peppers, capers, chile peppers – you name it. But I saw a recipe in this cookbook that really caught my attention for its simplicity.

The cookbook is called The Farm. The recipes are just what you’d expect with a name like the farm. Fresh ingredients and simple cooking.

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I’ve often mentioned how sometimes simple is best when it comes to cooking, and that’s exactly why I decided to make Ian Knauer’s recipe. Although being the type of cook that I am, I did change it up a bit. But only slightly. His recipe called for both basil and cilantro. I used only cilantro, and added cumin to the vinaigrette.

But the potato and corn salad was delicious, and perfect to celebrate the summer coming to an end.

Potato Corn Salad

Salad:

Cooked red potatoes, peels on

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Cooked corn on the cob

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Purple onion, diced

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Olive oil
Chopped cilantro

Drain the cooked potatoes so they’re not water-logged, and then place them in a large bowl. Add the corn and onion. Add a little olive oil and toss the ingredients gently. The olive oil will keep the potatoes moist. Then add the cilantro.

Let the salad cool slightly if the potatoes are still hot. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Place all of the ingredients in a blender jar. I included the mayonnaise to make the dressing a little milder and creamier, but that is optional.

Place in a bowl for serving.

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Once the salad is just warm or at room temperature, it can be served.

If you want a heftier potato and corn salad, you could always include sausage. Polish sausage, Italian sausage, or chorizo would be delicious!

I added a little ground black pepper to the salad as well. Cayenne flakes would be good, too.

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Curried Lentil Salad

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You all know that I love lentils. They’re delicious and healthy, but they’re also versatile. Once they’re cooked, you can serve them as a side dish, as an entrée, a soup, a dip, or a salad!

Well this salad I’m posting on today is delicious year ’round. It’s equally good in the winter as the summer months, and every month in between. It’s a lentil salad tossed with a curried garlic-citrus dressing. The dressing I made is as important as the salad itself.

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I feel it’s very important to match dressings or vinaigrettes to salad ingredients, which is why I prefer to make my own dressings from scratch. And when it comes to salads made predominantly, if not exclusively with legumes, I find that lemon- or lime-based dressings are preferable over vinegar. And I love vinegar, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about that acidity that pairs well with the legumes. I find it true with grain salads as well.

So today’s salad is a combination of cooked lentils, with some celery, carrots, and dried pomegranate seeds. Good, but not great. In addition, I’ve made a fabulous lemon juice-based dressing with a little twist. I hope you enjoy it.

I am not posting an exact recipe, because none is needed. Just go with what you like in the salad as well as with the dressing. Remember – no rules. It’s your food, you make it how you like it!

Lentil Salad

For the salad, I simply borrowed some lentils that I’d cooked the day before. Make sure the lentils are well-drained for the salad, if there’s an abundance of cooking liquid with the lentils. Alternatively, or use a slotted spoon to collect them. Then place the lentils in a medium-sized serving bowl, depending how big your salad is going to be.

To the lentils add thinly sliced celery and carrots. You could also add shallots or purple onions as well.

At this point, taste the lentil salad and make sure it is well seasoned. There’s no need going forward if the lentils aren’t seasoned to your liking. Salt and pepper should do the trick.

I cook my lentils, typically, in water with a chicken broth powder added. It’s a wonderful I’ve talked about before, that I buy in 1 lb. packages online. The chicken flavor of the broth adds enough seasoning to the lentils so that for me, no more is required. It “rounds” out the lentil flavor nicely. And the powder is much less expensive than purchasing broth.

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Toss the salad gently, and then make the dressing.

Curried Garlic Citrus Dressing

Juice of 3 lemons, strained, about 1/3 cup
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons orange-infused oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

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In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, and oils. Then add the garlic and seasoning.

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Give everything a good stir, and you’re ready to go.

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Place the lentil salad in bowls for serving, and top with the dried pomegranate seeds. Raisins or dried cherries would work just as well.

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Add as much of the dressing you want to each salad; I like a generous amount.

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Toss gently to get the lentils coated with the dressing, and enjoy.

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This salad is best slightly warmed or at room temperature.

Indian-Inspired Sliders

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I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

husband: You’ve just got to try these!
me: What are they?
husband: She calls them Bombay sliders. They’re Indian!
me: After a bite… You do realize there’s mayonnaise in them, right?

My husband hates mayonnaise. Or, I should say, he thinks he hates mayonnaise. He was raised on Miracle Whip, which I find extremely inferior in flavor to real, good mayonnaise. But he thinks all mayonnaise tastes like Miracle Whip.

So for years, I’ve been banned from using this substance. When I started cooking for him he also informed me that he hates cream cheese. Which is funny, because he eats cheesecake.

Anyway, the above conversation took place years ago at a food and wine event in Park City, Utah. My husband had come across a woman at a booth handing out these Bombay sliders, and just knowing that they were Indian, he accepted one and ate it. And went back for another, completely ignoring the white creamy sauce inside the slider.

These little Indian-inspired turkey sliders really were fabulous, so I went to the woman’s booth and asked her about them. She told me she found the recipe on Epicurious.com, and that I could, too. At this moment I don’t remember if the woman was a representative of a turkey company, or something else. But I did go home and look up the recipe. And there was the mayonnaise.

We’re not a huge sandwich family, but occasionally, just for fun, I will make these sliders. First of all, sliders are just cute and fun. And, these days, you can actually purchase slider buns at the grocery store. But most of all, if you love all flavors Indian, you’ll also truly enjoy these little sandwiches.

I’ve altered the recipe slightly, but you can find the original here.

Indian-Inspired Sliders

sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons good curry powder, I use this one

sliders:
1 pound ground pork
1 pound 2 ounces ground turkey*
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup mayonnaise
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece, 1″ square, of ginger, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt

Slider buns

For the sauce:
Firstly, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce; set aside. If you’re wary of curry powder, start with 1 teaspoon and taste first.

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For the sliders:
Place the pork and turkey in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.

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Mix everything together using your hands, but don’t overmix.
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Make uniform-sized burgers with the pork-turkey mixture to fit into the slider buns.

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Heat a griddle over high heat. Add a little olive oil. Cook the burgers on the first side for about 3-4 minutes. They should be nicely browned.

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Then turn them over, reduce the heat slightly, and continue cooking them for about 5-6 minutes. These times will vary, of course, depending how thick your burgers are.

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Place the burgers on a serving platter, and continue with the remaining meat.

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To serve, place the warm burgers on a room temperature bun, and top with the sauce.

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I always serve extra sauce as well, before the combination is just so good.

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* You can use 100% ground turkey in this recipe, or even use lamb instead.

note: Unless you’re against doing this for safety reasons, I always make sure the burgers are a little pink in the middle. That way they’re nice and moist.

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Enjoy!