DC – Potato Salad Two Ways

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

There’s something about potato salad that just screams “SUMMER!”  It almost even feels wrong to eat it when not within 15 feet of an over-chlorinated swimming pool, a grill pumping out hot dogs and hamburgers (with, or without cheese), and the coconuty aroma of sunscreen wafting through the air.  Inevitably somewhere, there’s a child dripping with melted ice cream, a Coleman cooler sloshing with chilled beer and soda, and me, lobster red, because once again I’ve decided that despite my Irish ancestry, sunscreen is not for me.

The arrival of potato salad has always marked the beginnings of summer far better than any calendar or final exam season ever could.  But potato salad has become somewhat maligned in recent years.  Apparently a cup of mayonnaise and chunks of hard boiled eggs are neither healthy nor within acceptable limits for “food safety” at outdoor picnics and celebrations.  While we all secretly hope for a glob of potato salad nestled between buttered sweet corn-on-the-cob, ribbed potato chips and an almost charred cheeseburger, it’s increasingly absent.  Replaced with “healthier” alternatives (carrot sticks anyone?) that lack the same “SUMMER!” declaration, and frankly, celebration that I’ve come to associate with the lowly potato salad.

I was glad to see this week’s challenge to create a “healthier potato salad,” right in time for summer and our 4th of July. I was so glad, that I fulfilled this challenge three times!  That’s right! Three potato “salads” this month! I’m posting two here today, and the third will be up tomorrow. While my first recipe isn’t quite backyard-party appropriate, it’s delicious nonetheless.  The second is more appropriate for a backyard party, but it’s also great at 3 in the afternoon when you’ve been so busy watching NCIS on DVD being productive that you’ve forgotten to eat lunch.

Roasted Potato Salad

Sauce recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

3 red potatoes
1 beet, peeled
1 radish
1/2 yellow zucchini
2 cherry tomatoes
1/4 head cauliflower
2 T whole grain mustard
2 T unsalted butter
1 lemon, juiced
Fresh chopped thyme, for garnish (optional)

Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes, beet, radish, and zucchini to 1/8 inch thick.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Also slice (by hand) the cauliflower thin, approximately 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the potatoes, beet, zucchini, cauliflower and tomatoes on a baking sheet and lightly oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes at 420 degrees F, or until the tomatoes are burst, the cauliflower and potatoes are slightly browned, and the zucchini and beet are soft. They may finish at different times, so keep a close eye on them.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the lemon juice and whole grain mustard. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the vegetables are done, stack them vertically (include the radish, which was not roasted) and top with a drizzle of the mustard/lemon sauce. A little sauce goes a long way and the vegetables will have so much great flavor that you’ll want them to shine too! Garnish with the thyme.

Warm Roasted Potato and Asparagus Salad

4 large red potatoes, cut into 8ths
6 large asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1.5 to 2 inch segments
1 teaspoon minced yellow onion
2 teaspoon minced garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, shaved (I used just a vegetable peeler)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the potatoes and asparagus on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly so that all vegetables are oiled. Roast at 425 for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and asparagus are fork tender.

Remove the asparagus into a separate bowl and set the oven to Broil. Broil the potatoes until they have browned and crisped up a little. Watch them because once they start to brown, they will burn quickly. Put the potatoes in the same bowl with the asparagus.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice, garlic, onion, balsamic, parsley and thyme in a bowl. Slowly whisk in approximately 1/4 cup olive oil, or enough to get the consistency you like. Salt and pepper to taste. The measurements for the dressing are approximate and can be altered to suit the tastes of the maker!

Spoon a little dressing over the potatoes and asparagus. I didn’t use all the dressing; you don’t want to drown the vegetables, just coat them lightly.

Top with the shaved Parmesan and serve warm.

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