In my mind, I’m a passionate gardener.
In reality, I’m often a disgruntled one.
Martha Stewart sure makes it look easy. But does she have to contend with lightening-fast squirrels that seem to think they have squatter’s rights in my yard? I think not.
I water and fertilize diligently, nurturing my plants and trees, and waiting for that moment when they give forth their riches in fruits and veggies. Apparently, the squirrels play that same waiting game. And more often than not, they trounce me at it.
Who will be first to snag the ripe tomatoes and peaches? Usually them, alas. This season, I got so fed up that I picked all my peaches off my dwarf tree just a hair before they ripened — just so I could enjoy them before the critters did. Take that, varmints!
Maybe that’s why I actually get joy from growing herbs. Because for whatever reason, my herbs are mostly left alone, able to flourish undisturbed, enabling me to get my pick of soft green leaves to enjoy.
On a recent afternoon, I felt fairly smug, going through my backyard, snipping chives, lemon basil, Italian basil, shiso, tarragon, and thyme, all in pristine condition.
Yes, it was all mine — to incorporate into “New Potatoes with Soft Green Herbs.”
The recipe is from the cookbook, “Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way with Vegetables” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy.
In summer especially, I am a salad fiend. And this book has 100 to tempt. Rosen, now chef and co-owner of R&D Foods, a specialty grocery store in Brooklyn, has a way with salads to be sure. You’re sure to salivate over “Vietnamese-Style Tofu Salad,” “Tex-Mex Cornbread Salad,” “Cold-Weather Crudites with Seeded Yogurt Dip” and “Grapefruit Salad with Dates and Dried Cherries.”
What’s especially appealing about this particular potato salad is that it’s not quite as heavy tasting as so many others. That’s because the potatoes are dressed with a tangy combination of yogurt (I used full-fat Greek), scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil — all blitzed in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
Then the fun part comes in — along with the dressing, the potatoes are tossed with a slew of fresh herbs, most of which are purposely left large for presence. This also gives this potato salad a lift, if you will, and makes every bite a little different.
You can use whatever mix of fresh herbs you like. In fact, after raiding my garden, the only green I added to the salad that I didn’t grow was celery leaves pinched from the inner stalks of store-bought celery.
I probably added even more green herbs than Rosen’s recipe called for. But I think I can be forgiven for my giddiness over the fact that my home-grown bounty was actually all mine for once.
New Potatoes with Soft Green Herbs
For lemon-scallion yogurt dressing:
2 scallions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For rest of salad:
1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cups mixed fresh herbs (see Note)
Make the dressing: Put the scallions in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, add the yogurt and lemon zest and juice, and pulse to combine. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add salted water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a gentle boil. When the potatoes are just tender enough to be pierced through easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 10 to 12 minutes depending on size, drain in a colander.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and transfer to a bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss gently, taking are not to break the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the potatoes cool completely.
When ready to serve, add three-quarters of the herbs, including the lovage (or celery leaves), and the remaining dressing to the potatoes and toss to combine. Shower the salad with the remaining herbs.
Note: When herbs are at their best, don’t mess with them — don’t mince them, don’t chop them, don’t even wash them. Use any combination of whole mint leaves, small dill and/or tarragon sprigs, lovage or celery leaves (torn if large), and long cuts of chives.
From “Saladish” by Ilene Rosen
More Potato Salads to Enjoy: Gordon’s Red Potato Salad with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing