Continuing with the ‘Year of the Potato’ theme, I offer you a potato and green bean salad. This is popular salad combination in France when using young green beans (hericots verts), especially in the spring and early summer. In the north, the combo might be dressed with white wine vinegar, a light vegetable oil, and Dijon mustard. In this southern variation, the warm vegetables are tossed with paper-thin slices of shallots marinated in a simple vinaigrette. A good quality of olive oil is crucial, since your not cooking with it, masking the flavor. Makes 6 servings as a side/salad.
*If you don’t use new potatoes (young, small potatoes) then you’ll have to cube them, which is what I did.
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 C good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and cut crosswise into paper thin slices (or 1 TBSP pre-minced shallots)
3/4 lb green beans, trimmed to about 2 inches long
1.5 lb small new potatoes, preferably red-skinned and 1.5 inch in diameter (or regular red’s cut into 1 inch cubes)
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add salt and potatoes. Reduce heat and gently boil until the potatoes are just tender (10-15 min). Don’t let the potatoes over cook because they’ll become mushy when tossing with the dressing and green beans. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar and water with salt and pepper. Add the oil in a thin stream whisking constantly until well combined. Add shallots, toss briefly, and set aside to marinate.
3. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. In a medium pot, steam (with boiling water) the green beans in a steamer basket covered tightly, 3-5 minutes.
4. Immediately refresh the green beans directly in the ice water for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
5. If using small new potatoes: As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half.
6. Stir the reserved dressing several times, and add the warm potatoes. Toss gently until the potatoes are thoroughly coated.
7. Gently toss in the beans. Adjust the seasonings as necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Advance prep: The salad can stand at room temp for one hour before serving. It can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temp before serving. However, the acidity of the vinegar will cause red-skinned potatoes and the green beans to lose some pigment.
Variations: I added some fresh herbs from the garden into my dressing – rosemary, basil, and marjoram. Also, I didn’t have any red wine vinegar, so I used fresh lime juice instead. Yummy!