Fingerling Potato Salad with Celery, Bacon and Arugula

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have seemed short but the days were long.

-The ShinsJuly 26, 2013 009

This week’s second salad will stick to your ribs if you let it.  It’s busting out with crispy bacon and buttery fingerling potatoes.  It also has plenty of green bits: celery hearts, celery leaves, and baby arugula.  It’s awesome still warm or at room temperature.  I’ve eaten it cold straight from the fridge this week several times too.  The original recipe calls for watercress. I opted for baby arugula because I wanted its bitter bite to perk up the milder flavors of potatoes and celery.potato salad1

We picnicked with this salad on Tuesday evening at Chill on the Hill, an outdoor summer concert series here in Milwaukee.  Also in the cooler:  half a roasted chicken and a bottle of Gnarly Head red.  I sliced up a nectarine and threw a handful of blueberries into whole milk yogurt with a glug of maple syrup and called it dessert.  So fresh.

fruit salad

The food was good; the beats were funky; the mosquitoes weren’t biting; it was summer.

What more could an earthling ask for?

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Fingerling Potato Salad with Celery, Bacon and Arugula

modified from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living- July 2012

“Martha” says: Assembling this potato salad while the potatoes are still warm is key. They’ll absorb more flavor from the vinegar and oiil, and the heat will also slightly wilt the celery and [arugula].

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fingerling or other small potatoes

6 slices thick cut bacon (I used venison bacon, you could do turkey or tempeh bacon!)

6 celery stalks, sliced thin

1/2 cup celery leaves

2 cups arugula

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

celery

Method:

Put the potatoes in a big pot covered by 2 inches with cold water.  Salt the water generously.  Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until just barely tender. Check them often by piercing with a fork or knife.  It should take between 8 and 12 minutes depending on your spuds.

While potatoes cook, fry up your bacon in a skillet under crispy, but not burned.  Remove from pan onto paper towel and when cool enough, chop into bite-sized chunks.  Reserve the bacon grease for another use, such as bacon-flavored popcorn!

When the potatoes are done, drain them.  When they’re just cool enough to handle, cut each lengthwise and place in a bowl.  Dress potatoes with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Fold in the celery and leaves, arugula.  Add the bacon if serving immediately, otherwise hold off on adding it until chow time for optimal crispness.

Serves 6-ish.  Or two at a picnic and in several lunches throughout the week.

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Red Leaf and Scallion Salad with Olive Bread Croutons & Feta

In the reflection of my laptop screen I can see thousands of leaves blowing in unison against a perfect ratio of cloud to sky.  With a quick change in focus I can see the words forming, black on white, a blog post, finally, after too many months of silence.

This summer rushed in and blessed me with a new job, a new home, and plenty of occasions for cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.  I’ve been tying up swimsuit strings, catching toads, and playing Candy Land with the two little girls I’ve nanny-ed for since June.  Also, I’ve picked out curtains for all the windows in our new apartment, organized my cookbooks on the nifty built-in bookshelves, and explored the neighborhood on new running routes with my husband as we train for our first half-marathon.  I’ve cooked and baked for birthdays and picnics and enjoyed every bite of my summer.

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

My husband Brandon enjoying his birthday gift: a king crab leg feast

And now it’s time to dedicate some moments to sharing something here.  This week, I’ll offer up two humble summer salads. They’re eager for outdoor concerts, potlucks, or nights when the grill is off-duty.  I recommend chasing them with a bottle of red or white under the blue and cheers-ing every last drop of summer.

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

At a bonfire with friends from the dietetics program. (yes, we roasted vegan marshmallows!)

The first salad I’ll share is something I whipped up with the contents of our first CSA box.  It’s built on a tender mound of red leaf lettuce and dressed with a classic shallot vinaigrette – but there’s more to love – thinly sliced sweet-pungent scallions, crunchy rustic red peppers, salty feta, and… olive bread croutons(!!!).

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Red leaf and scallion salad with olive bread croutons and feta

ingredients:

half a loaf olive bread

head of leaf lettuce

4-5 scallions (green and white parts)

rustic red pepper (aka long pepper)

good feta cheese, crumbled

olive oil

white wine vinegar

shallots or garlic

Dijon mustard

s & p

 

Throw it together:

To make the croutons, I sliced day-old olive bread (you can use any kind of chewy, artisan bread) into 1 inch cubes. I put the bread cubes on a sheet pan, thinly coated them with olive oil, and baked for 10 minutes at 425° F.  *Check your croutons frequently*  We’re looking for browned edges with crispy outsides and chewy insides.  Friends, trust me on this, you’ve got to have the chewy insides.

From there, roughly chop up a head of leaf lettuce (mine was red, yours might be green, or purple!), thinly slice 4 or 5 scallions (aka green onions), and slice a rustic red pepper into strips.  Then, put all the veggies in a nice bowl, surround them with a halo of croutons, and top with feta.  (I also added toasted sunflower seeds after I took the photos.)

For the dressing, glug your preferred ratio of olive oil and vinegar into a jar with a tight fitting lid, mince some shallots or garlic and thow them in the pool.  Squirt in a dollop of Dijon mustard and grind in salt and pepper.  Shake the jar vigorously (with the lid on, silly!) until the dressing is emulsified.

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I served the dressing on the side so the croutons wouldn’t get soggy.  You can thank me later for their chewy insides.  😉