Dinner in the Sun-Drenched Garden… New Potatoes in a Bistro-Style Salad: Pommes À L’Huile from Patricia Wells

August 29th, 2010 § 4 comments

Pommes À L’Huile – Warm Potato Salad with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Late Summer Dinner on the Terrace

There’s something absolutely delicious about the last weekend in August. What brings on this delightfully hypnotic, wonderfully relaxing mood? Perhaps it’s the warmth of the sun radiating from the stone-slab terrace, or maybe it’s the color of the sky; deepest topaz blue? There are so many subtle ingredients to this hopelessly intoxicating, late-summer cocktail, I could never unravel the recipe. Let’s just say it’s pure bliss.

Knowing that we are nearing the end of this sweet season, I spend every moment possible outdoors. Lunch and dinner on the sun-drenched terrace, surrounded by the smells of warm earth and pots of aromatic herbs, is one of the simplest —yet most treasured— of my summertime rituals. And there’s so much produce to enjoy —pulled straight from the garden— at this time of year. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve begun harvesting new gourmet potatoes from the potager; gold, pink, red and amethyst jewels. These beautiful gems, grown from Ronniger’s seed potatoes, make the most wonderful salads I’ve ever tasted. Message to self —in bold letters, underlined and circled at the top of my gardening journal— “Grow Twice As Many Potatoes Next Year”…

Harvesting New Potatoes from the Potager

Potatoes Scrubbed Clean and Glowing, Bright as Easter Eggs

Potato salad, particularly with herbs and vinegar, is such a wonderfully uncomplicated, perfect summer dish. My favorite recipe comes from Patricia Wells’ classic, and brilliant book, Bistro Cooking. Do you know it? True, it’s not as flashy or glamorous-looking as some —but it’s a true treasure-trove of culinary delight. And just between us? While I grant the award for world’s best gurkensalat to my Tante Maria, this potato salad from Patricia Wells gives my Tante’s kartoffelsalat a serious run for her money (shhh. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t use the internet). The key to this salad’s rich flavor is in the warm-marination process. Allowing the potatoes time to absorb flavors of the highest quality white wine vinegar and olive oil, makes all the difference in the world. If you grow your own potatoes, this is a great way to really show those spuds off. There’s nothing like the taste and texture of fresh potatoes pulled straight from the earth; washed and steamed to perfection. Don’t grow your own potatoes yet? Well, grab some new reds from the farmers market or your CSA, and make yourself a BIG gardening note for next year: Grow Potatoes. They are a super-easy, undemanding crop (they can even be grown in bags on decks and terraces). Enjoy. And remember, there are still three and a half weeks of summer left!

Pommes À L’ Huile

Based on the recipe from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking

Ingredients (Serves 6-8 as a side dish- divide or multiple to suit your needs)

3           Pounds new potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean with skin on

1           Cup plus 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

6           Tablespoons very high quality white wine vinegar

4           Tablespoons dry white wine

2           Teaspoons Kosher salt

4           Small shallots, minced fine

Fresh parsley  (3 – 4 tablespoons) chopped fine

Fresh chives (about 3 tablespoon) chopped fine

Fresh thyme chopped very fine (perhaps a tablespoon, to taste)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

**Other herbs may be added as substitutes or, as strike your fancy**

Directions:

Steam the potatoes with skin on for 20 minutes, or until tender when pricked with a fork. Drain and let cool. Meanwhile whisk together 1 cup olive oil, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 4 tablespoons of white wine and 2 tsp. Kosher salt. Peel potatoes and slice 1/2 inch thick. Toss with the vinaigrette and set aside for about 1/2 hour, allowing potatoes to absorb the liquid.

In a small bowl, combine remaining vinegar, olive oil parsley, shallots and chives. Add fresh pepper to taste.

Before serving the potatoes, quickly toss with the fresh herbed vinaigrette. Wonderful served warm in the sun.

Pommes À L’Huile

‘Autumn Beauty’ Sunflower (Helianthus annus) The Brilliant Color of Happiness in the Potager

Doctor Woo, Enjoying Her 11th Summer, Stretched Out on the Terrace

‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory along the Garden Gate

Burgundy Hued Sunflowers in the Potager (Helianthus annus ‘Autumn Beauty’ Mix)

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Article and photographs ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

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§ 4 Responses to Dinner in the Sun-Drenched Garden… New Potatoes in a Bistro-Style Salad: Pommes À L’Huile from Patricia Wells"

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Michaela, OMG these spuds are so beautiful… they seem to glow from within! I can just imagine the sound of your knife as it slices through their crispy, crunchy (Geez, it’s hard to describe the sound that I know they’re making under your blade. There’s nothing else that sounds like it that I know of, well, maybe except for freshly harvested Jerusalem Artichokes, but most people wouldn’t know what they sound like either!)
    And what kind of sunflower is in that last photo? What an absolutely gorgeous, gloriously rich colour! Oh, just found the name – Autumn Beauty, is it? Is this a younger flower then, or another cultivar than the photo above Dr. Woo? Is seed hard to source or widely available? Wow! Deb : )

  • Michaela says:

    Hi Deb. Yes, the Ronniger’s potatoes are a huge success – so beautiful. I grew but a few varieties last year. This year, I grew more. Next year – well they might just get their own plot! Jerusalem Artichokes are wonderful and indeed – they make a great noise when sliced.
    The sunflower in question is part of the ‘Autumn Beauty’ mix. So, the seedlings are quite variable from burgundy and rust to gold and yellow. Some have hombre-like light-tipped edging and some have stripes. You never know – but they are always gorgeous and put on a great August show. Seed source is widely available. You can usually get them from Burpee or Hart for $1.50 – $2.00. It’s a great cut flower.
    xo M

  • Joan Hyde says:

    You are the voice I didn’t have in this lifetime. This is the most beautiful site I have ever seen. My deepest love to you. Thank you, thank you for this nourishment to my soul.

  • Michaela says:

    What a lovely comment to start the morning Joan! Thank you so much for your lovely words. You’ve filled me with the warmth of summer on this late January day. I hope you will continue to enjoy the site.

    xo
    Michaela

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