Monday, March 3, 2014

A Potato Salad

Shrove Tuesday is tomorrow- or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, or whatever you call it. It's a day of all things fattening and sweet for many, but perhaps you need something a little lighter and not so very coated in sugar.

For you, I have a salad from Houston's famous Treebeards Cookbook.

Their recipe book collects gems from both the Treebeards kitchen and local family heirlooms. There are no pictures, but I love pouring over the pages, thinking about the grannies and mammas that shared their children's favorite meals, or about the bustling commercial kitchen whipping up these same recipes at five or six times the volume. The book and the restaurant are treasures of Houston. I respect both the history they keep and their sheer staying power in a city where time and progress move in a distinctly wibbly-wobbly fashion.

The recipe in question was Treebeards' Green Beans and New Potatoes. It was lovely and I see myself mixing this up again for a future picnic with friends in the coming Spring- if Spring ever comes back to us, that is.
This is a potato salad without mayonnaise and without egg. It's perfectly vegan and perfectly light. I'd even make the dressing for other salad of the normal, leafy variety.

Treebeards uses two types of bell peppers and smaller new potatoes. We were going for a Mardi Gras themed side dish, so we stuck to a color palate of green, yellow, and purple. We dropped the red peppers, doubled the yellow, and used red skinned potatoes that looked rather purple once cooked and mixed with the other ingredients. I kept the dressing exactly as the book prescribed.

Now without further ado, the recipe.

Adapted from Treebeards' Green Beans and New Potatoes. p. 186 of Treebeards Cookbook, tenth printing.

4 large red potatoes, cut into pieces just a little bigger than bite-size
4 cups green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

For the dressing:
1 garlic clove, minced very fine
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black

Simmer potatoes until tender- 15 to 20 minutes. You should be able to pierce them easily with a fork, but they should not be so soft that they fall apart when poked. The skins should still be firmly attached, too.
Simmer green beans until they are just barely cooked. They need to be firm, about al dente.
Drain potatoes and beans.

For the dressing:
Vigorously whisk all the dressing ingredients together. You can do this while your veggies are simmering.

Final step:
In a large pan, heat up the chopped bell pepper. You're not looking for a char or even to tenderize them. This is a quick introduction with heat just to waken up the flavor. Add to the peppers the beans, potatoes, and the dressing. Toss together- but don't break up the potatoes.

Serve warm right away or refrigerate and pack on your next picnic or pot-luck. I like it cool.

I hope this bit of healthy food can pull you through this day of fatty feasting, and can give you courage for tomorrow's post. I'll be telling you all about an adventure with Banana Funnel Cakes and Deep Fried Fudge Pop Pies. So, clear your arteries and hunker down.
Until then, enjoy!

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