New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

New Potato and Green Bean Salad

New Potatoes are such a treat in the summertime.  They are small, freshly harvested potatoes, that have a natural sweetness, and hold their shape after cooking – making them a perfect potato to use in salads.  For this easy side dish, I’ve lightened up a summer favourite, -the classic potato salad.  A tangy lemon-dijon vinaigrette loaded with tons of fresh herbs make for a refreshing twist on the traditional mayo-based dressing. Plus, I’ve added some crunch with tons of green and yellow beans, fresh from my father-in-law’s garden!

Blanching the green beans is an essential step to help them keep their vibrant green hue. Simply boil water, add the green beans, boil for 2-4 minutes depending on their size, then submerge the green beans into an ice-bath (a large bowl filled with ice and some water).  This “shocks” the green beans and stops the cooking process, sealing in the bright green colour and crunch.  I also like to blanche broccoli whenever I make a broccoli salad or even when I assemble a veggie platter – everyone always asks how I got the broccoli to look so green, so now you know.

If you’ve been following my previous posts this tip will be a repeat. Whenever you make a grain, pasta, or potato salad, ALWAYS toss the starch with the dressing when the starch is still warm.  This way, as the starch cools down it will absorb all the flavours, rather than just coating the outside.

New Potato Salad with Green Bean and Basil

New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

Serves 6-8, as a side

2 lbs new potatoes, washed
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, sliced into 1 inch pieces

Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 green onions, sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook the new potatoes whole, for 12-15 minutes, or until a fork pierced into the potato comes out easily. Remove the potatoes from the water with a slotted spoon, and set aside to cool slightly – reserve the water to blanche the green beans.

2. Bring the water back up to a boil, then add the sliced green beans and cook for 2-4 minutes.  Prepare the ice bath by combining ice and a bit of water in a large bowl.  Test one of the beans at 2 minutes to see if it’s cooked to your liking, if not, continue to cook in one minute intervals.  As soon as they are cooked, drain the beans in a colander, then quickly submerge into the ice bath.  Once the beans are cold, strain the beans and set aside to dry.

3.  While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, dijon, garlic, and salt and pepper.

4.  When the potatoes are cooled enough to handle, slice into rounds and toss with the vinaigrette in a medium bowl.  Add the green beans and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes.

5.  Before serving, add the green onions, celery, basil, and parsley.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

Image

With the weather getting colder, soups and stews are starting to make their way back onto my weekly dinner rotation. There are so many different combinations of flavours and ingredients that you could make a different soup each night of the week and never get bored.  Whether you call it a soup or a stew, this rich tomato broth with tender chucks of fish and vegetables comes together quickly and makes a perfect weeknight meal.

Whenever a recipe calls for canned tomatoes I always add just a touch of sugar; this serves not only to neutralize the acidity from the tomatoes but also as a time saver to create a depth of flavour that is usually achieved by cooking tomatoes for a long period of time. The amount of sugar you will need depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes and your own personal preference. Remember the best tool in your kitchen is your sense of taste, so make sure you taste your food as you’re cooking.   It can mean the difference between a delicious meal and a bland disaster!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, juice included.
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste).
½ – 1 teaspoon sugar
2 filets or ~400g red snapper or other white fish, cut into 1 inch pieces.
2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup  fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. In a large soup pot sauté onions over medium heat until they become translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Next add the diced tomatoes including liquid, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon sugar.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste, if it’s too acidic at this point you can add another ½ teaspoon sugar.   I prefer my vegetables on the crunchy side but if you like your vegetables a little softer continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Right before you are ready to serve the stew add the fish and spinach, cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and serve immediately with a nice piece of crusty bread to soak up the tasty broth.

{Tip} You can make the tomato base ahead of time up until the point where you add the fish, then when you are ready to eat simply reheat and add the fish and spinach a few minutes before serving.