Summer is waning, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, but for those of you who live where it's summer until late September or early October (or later), here's a wonderful salad that straddles the seasons. It's got some heft in the form of the potatoes, but still relies heavily on the summery greens and tomatoes we all love.
Another great thing about this salad is that it can be put together in stages. I have about four thousand children (OK, not really, only four--there seem to be so many more of them when I'm trying to get them all in the car), and finding a large block of uninterrupted time in which to cook is hard. This salad can be made in stages, which means you can do part of it, tend to some kids, do some more, tend to some kids, and so on until you're ready to eat and all the kids are in bed. Really, it's ideal.
The potatoes and tomatoes are roasted with some olive oil, garlic and thyme, and then tossed with arugula and blanched green beans in a red wine-Dijon vinaigrette. I cut the potatoes and tossed them and the tomatoes with the garlic and olive oil puree, scattered them with thyme (I didn’t even have to pull it off the stem! Talk about easy!) and popped them in the oven. This is about the only piece of this recipe that really can’t be left to languish; once the potatoes are cut up, they need to head for the oven promptly lest they turn that sad grayish color that potatoes do turn. But since the prep for this step is mostly done with a sharp knife and the blender, it can be completed in the time it takes one three year old to eat a banana and a bowl of animal crackers.
Next I topped and tailed the green beans, which can sit out with no ill effects. I made the dressing. Again, a patient component that will wait until you’re ready. When the potatoes and tomatoes were done roasting, I pulled them out and let them cool their heels on the stove for a little while, during which time I read “Hungry Pig” (aloud--not to myself) and explained fifteen times that, yes indeed, the sun was going down. I think I may have had a glass of wine in there too.
I blanched the green beans, shocked them, and let them drain while I rounded up the last kid from a water balloon fight and saw him headed for a bath. He was allowed to watch George of the Jungle and then off to bed.
Finally, dinner time! I tossed the arugula and green beans with the potatoes and tomatoes (and I confess, I used more like three to four cups of arugula for four people versus the two in the original recipe, and 6 ounces of green beans, rather than the 3 ounces called for), and served the dressing on the side.
And there you have it, an excellent dinner, prepared in between getting four children ready for and into bed. Nothing suffered from standing or sitting, and it all tossed together at the last minute to seem as though it was meant to be done that way.
from Martha Stewart Living, June 2008
For the Salad
5 garlic cloves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds Russian banana fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 stems fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces green beans
3-4 cups baby arugula
For the Dressing
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ shallot, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Make the salad: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Puree garlic and olive oil in a blender until smooth. Toss with potatoes, tomatoes, and thyme on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until potatoes are golden and tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Or quite a bit.
Prepare an ice-water bath. Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water until bright green and just tender. Transfer to ice-water bath. When cool, drain beans in a colander and let them sit as long as necessary. They won’t mind.
Make the dressing: Combine vinegar, mustard, thyme, and shallot in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Set aside until needed.
When all children are in bed, and you’ve had ten minutes to relax, toss potato mixture, beans and arugula with dressing (or you can do as I did and toss the vegetables together and serve the dressing on the side). Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature. If there’s going to be a gap of an hour or two between the preparation of all the components, and the actual serving, I recommend keeping everything separate and tossing it all at the last minute. Arugula gets so pathetic looking when it sits too long in dressing.
Photograph by The Modern Apron