You say “potato”

My recent burst of enthusiasm for salad has been continuing for the past few weeks and shows no sign of abating just yet.

As well as variations on the two salads I mentioned previously, I have been practising a bit of noodlesprucing on my basic potato salad, with very satisfactory results

Potato salad has long been one of my favourite salads; possibly this is at least partly because it never feels quite as worryingly healthy as many other kinds of salads but mostly I think it’s just because a well-made potato salad is a delight to the taste-buds (well, to mine, at any rate).

My basic potato salad recipe, which I’ve been making on and off for years, is essentially to boil up a handful of roughly diced potatoes (not too small chunks), drain them and let them  cool, then toss them in either salad cream or mayonnaise with a bit of seasoning, most often paprika (an idea I picked up at a party many years ago).  In the past, I think I’ve most often tended to use salad cream but this year I’ve worked exclusively with mayonnaise (shop-bought, although now I have a hand blender I might have another go at making some from scratch, if I can steel myself to the sheer amount of oil involved; last time I tried it I was using a hand whisk and it was very hard work, though produced quite tasty results) and have been enjoying that.

A week or two back, I prepared a potato salad in the usual way but also added a sprinkle of Vegeta (inspired no doubt by the Hungarian connotations of the paprika I was using) and a finely chopped spring onion or two. Aactually, as I recall, I used the white bits of two spring onions, saving the green bits to go in a green salad I was making at the same time.

That worked pretty well, so tonight when I was making up another potato salad I did the same thing (with one whole spring onion, finely chopped, this time) but also added a couple of fairly finely chopped radishes, as I happened to have a few to hand that needed eating.  The result was, I think, even better than before.

I’m not intending to prepare my potato salads like this every time from now on, but I’m hoping that having broken the mould  of my standard recipe I’ll be inspired to find different variations to keep things interesting.

Salad Days

Despite indications I may sometimes give to the contrary (e.g. with jovial references to “token salad” when helping myself to a minimal bit of vegetable matter as part of a well-piled plate of food at a buffet), I actually quite enjoy eating salads.  However, it is rare for them to make up the bulk of a meal for me.

Yesterday was an exception.

I had been to the supermarket and picked up a couple of little gem lettuces and some salad tomatoes as part of a special offer on fruit and veg, along with a fresh pineapple.

My plan all along was to make them into salad as part of my dinner.  However, due to a sequence of events including an impromptu beach trip with some friends in the evening, I didn’t actually get round to eating much more than a few handfuls of Bombay Mix until I got home shortly before 11pm.  By this time I was fairly hungry and wanted something quick to prepare and not too heavy to eat before I went to bed.

A few minutes later, I had two delicious salads prepared which I then proceded to eat with a few slices of fresh bread.

I remember reading, several years ago, advice from a cookery guru (I think it was Nigella Lawson, though I’m not entirely sure) that you shouldn’t mix red and green in a salad.  Although I’ve enjoyed enough mixed salads to be firmly convinced that this advice can be safely ignored, I decided on this occasion to make two separate salads – one featuring the lettuce and the other the tomatoes.

My first salad was a version of my default salad, namely some torn-up lettuce leaves and various other ingredients tossed around in a DIY vinaigrette dressing.  On this occasion, the other ingredients were a couple of chopped spring onions, a few capers and a handful of bisected green olives.  The vinaigrette was a simple mixture of a fairly generous quantity of olive oil and a somewhat smaller amount of balsamic vinegar, seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and rosemary and whipped up a bit with a hand whisk.

The other salad was a bit more experimental, although based fairly closely on my recollection of salads I’ve been served by other people.  I sliced up a couple of tomatoes and put them in a bowl, then sprinkled them with black pepper (freshly-milled, of course – Delia would be proud of me), dried basil, crumbled-up goat’s cheese and a dash of balsamic vinegar, garnishing the ensemble with a single basil leaf.

In total, it was probably no more than five minutes’ work to prepare both salads (and even less to eat them).  There was enough to save a bit for this evening too and, while they weren’t in quite such good condition after a day in the fridge, they were still very tasty.

In case you were wondering about the meaning of the term Salad Days (when not being misappropriated for blog titles), it is usually used to refer back to the bygone days of one’s youth.  Apparently (and I was not aware of this, despite having read the play at least once), the term comes from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, in which the eponymous heroine speaks of:

…My salad days,
When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…