Those of us raised by southern mothers might have grown up with Green Beans and Potatoes on the table come hot, dripping summertime evenings. Add a plate of heavy sliced tomatoes (well-salted, thank you) and a pan of cornbread with lots of butter, please, and that was dinner. Who needed meat? For the past few years, warm weather brings on the need to re-create that dish with my own twists and turns. Those often include tossing in whatever other vegetables I have on hand, turning it all into a salad, and whipping up a frisky vinaigrette I doubt my mom would ever have added. She might have thrown in a piece of chopped bacon or a tablespoon or two of bacon grease into the pot for flavor, though, now that I think about it. Oh, and that bacon grease never saw the inside of a refrigerator either. (We all lived.)
I like a lot of things about my Green Beans and Potatoes turned Salad/Side, but my favorite concept — and this might be yours, too — is:
THIS IS A ONE-DISH SIDE. Grill chicken (pork chops, burgers…) and Bob’s your uncle; you’re done.
And, if you make a big bowl, you can eat it one night with grilled chicken breasts and then the next toss in a can of salmon or even eat it as is for lunch. Other thoughts: a little diced leftover ham or cooked brat stirred in? Diced cheddar? Poached egg on top, ha? How about my mom’s bacon? Ok, maybe you have the idea.
While there are other versions of this salad on the blog from previous stifling months and years, I think I like this one the very best as it can be made in several different ways. My instructions indicate simmering the potatoes in water and then grilling them stovetop before tossing them first with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then with the other vegetables and and a sherry vinaigrette–see below. (You’ll use the same water to cook the beans.) But there’s no reason you can’t either 1. cook the potatoes all the way done in the water (and then cook the beans) or 2. grill everything outdoors on a gas or charcoal grill including the beans, which can be done in a grill basket should you have one. You can also get this done in the morning if you like, store it in the fridge, and just laze around all day reading sleazy novels if you’ve got someone else to grill the meat later on. (I do like it best fresh, but it’ll eat no matter when, especially if you refresh the vinaigrette or at least the oil and vinegar.)
Why Sherry Vinegar? Mostly because it tastes so good (nutty, full-bodied, complex…), but read up to learn more. Buy a bottle soon; it’s salad season.
Here’s a little bit about how the “all on the stove” method works- using a stove top grill pan, one of my favorite pieces of equipment:
However you make it, you’ll have a luscious, pretty-as-a-picture, nutritious side (or main dish if you’re vegetarian or vegan) that you can fool around with, swapping out broccoli for the green beans or adding grilled mushrooms or fennel maybe. What about if skipping the potatoes and using cooked whole wheat pasta like mostaccioli or ziti sounds tasty at your house? I think you’re good. Just try this:
Garlicky Two-Potato and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
- ¾ pound each: white and sweet potatoes-peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces (I had two medium white potaoes and one very large sweet potato.)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- ¾ pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- ½ sweet bell pepper, yellow, orange, or red, cut into medium dice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon* (plus extra for garnish)
- Tarragon Vinaigrette-see cook’s note for recipe
- 1 small tomato, diced—for garnish
- Add the potatoes to a 6-quart pot and pour in enough water to cover by two inches. Season with a teaspoon or two of salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let cook at a good simmer, not a rolling boil, for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly, but not totally tender. Meanwhile, heat a stove top grill pan over medium high heat.
- Place a colander on top of a bowl (make sure it sits steadily) and carefully fish out the potatoes with a spider or slotted spoon into the colander to drain for 2 minutes. Shake the colander to remove excess water and dump the water from the bowl into the sink. Tip the potatoes into the now water-free bowl; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Turn the flame up under the pot of water until it’s boiling and add the green beans. Cook until they are just barely done, which will depend on the age and size of the beans. Mine took about 5 or 6 minutes. Drain in a colander in the sink and pat dry with paper towels.
- As the green beans cook, pour the potatoes out onto the hot grill pan and grill for 3 minutes or so or until dark grill marks appear. Using tongs, turn potatoes and let the other side brown, cooking until the potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cooked green beans to the potatoes in the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir carefully. Tip in the minced red onions, diced sweet peppers, and the minced tarragon; stir again. Drizzle with all but a tablespoon of the Tarragon Vinaigrette and toss gently until all of the vegetables are well-coated. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Turn salad out onto a platter or into a bowl and garnish with diced tomatoes and a little more minced tarragon. Drizzle the reserved tablespoon of vinaigrette evenly over all. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. (If you’re making the salad ahead and storing it in the fridge, you’ll need to add extra olive oil and vinegar or more vinaigrette at serving time as the vegetables will have absorbed the vinaigrette.)
- *If you have no fresh tarragon, you can substitute 1 tablespoon dry and, if available, two tablespoons of fresh parsley, minced.
• 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (can sub balsamic)
• Pinch each salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
• 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced (can sub 1 teaspoon dried) In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the garlic, the sherry vinegar, with the salt and peppers. Let rest a few minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, whisking all the while, until well-mixed and emulsified (thickened). Stir in fresh tarragon. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you’d like, you can make the vinaigrette a day ahead and store it in the fridge overnight, letting it come to room temperature and adding the tarragon just before using. Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2020. All rights reserved.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE ITS SISTER…
LIFE GOES ON…
We had a cold, rainy (some had snow) Memorial weekend and as it wore on, we turned the heat on, played games, cooked some new things, and began watching Ken Burns’ series, THE WAR. — great stuff. I think we paid $20 for the series on Amazon Prime, a steal. I’m reading Ta-Nehisi Coate’s debut novel, THE WATER DANCER–captivating and illuminating. I just finished NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney–fast, fast and memorable. What a knack for dialogue this young woman has; she was born in 1991. How does she know all that??!
Sunday, I made the fun scones by Dawn Perry from NEW YORK TIMES’ Wednesday food section to go along with a zucchini frittata. The stellar recipe called for frozen cherries; I used fresh strawberries (chopped) and blueberries to honor the holiday. At altitude, our flours are so dry that we often must add some liquid to doughs and this one was no exception; it took another 2-3 tablespoons of milk to get the dough to hang together. Two other small additions: 1. I added a teaspoon of water to the beaten egg that is brushed on top 2. I sprinkled a tiny bit of granulated sugar on top of the egg wash for color and texture.
Monday night, still too cool to grill, Dave made LION’S HEAD MEATBALLS (cabbage/rice noodles) from last December’s COOK’S ILLUSTRATED magazine. Homey and filling. One meatball was plenty! I think we might slice the leftovers for sandwiches. (These are pork meatballs.)
We continue to stay in the house a lot as Colorado is still under “Safer at Home” rules. There are restaurants and stores opening up, and our COVID-19 numbers are lessening, but since we don’t have to go to work, can pick up our groceries easily without visiting the store, and are blessed with a beautiful neighborhood for walking, we think we’re better off at home– especially at age 66. Listening to NPR this morning, I’m sad to hear COVID-19 numbers are spiking in several places including Georgia and Alabama and that a second and maybe even third wave is expected nationwide come late summer and fall. Since our world it so small these days, I know our country as a whole is not yet moving out of the proverbial woods. There are days it’s hard to handle–I miss my family so much, but the next day there’s a way to be grateful for home, health, food, friends, family, and my loved husband. We often swap food with neighbors, leaving goodies on front steps, ringing the bell, and running away—just kidding. I remain convinced exercise, music, reading, and playing Scrabble truly help see us through. Television news is still something we rarely see. Can’t handle the hype. Adore both Colorado Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio–our go-tos.
How are you living? What are you reading or listening to? Cooking? Learning? Loving?
“Every storm runs out of rain.”~Maya Angelou
Out in our back 40, there’s a nearly-hidden white iris blooming I never planted, though it’s bloomed a time or two in the last few years.
Grateful for it this year, as well as for you. Thanks for reading,