If you’re just joining us, the first thing you should know is that this is not the blog of a vegetarian. What this is, is the personal journal of someone who loves good food in all its forms. That being said, I have been eating less meat for the past five years. It’s gotten to the point where people in my family are asking me if I’m giving up meat altogether. I don’t think that will ever happen as I do like my fried chicken and foie gras.
Potatoes are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. They’re so tasty and versatile. I’ve never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like; it’s a miracle my waistline isn’t over 33″. That being said, I don’t treat them as a “starch” as is typical of most Americans. I think that’s what’s missing at our daily table — that vegetables should be accorded the respect they deserve. Don’t you agree?
Here’s an unusual variation on “potato salad” that is 180 degrees from the mayonnaise-laden, gloppy (and to my palate, overly sweet) version that’s commonly available in just about any delicatessen, diner or supermarket found in the U.S.
Adirondack Blue Potato and Beet Salad, with Shiitake Mushrooms and Scallion-Ginger Relish
If you can’t obtain blue potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes are a fine substitute.
1 medium-sized red beet, scrubbed
1 medium-sized Adirondack blue potato, scrubbed
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
scallion-ginger relish (see recipe below)
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the beet and potato. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you’re able to pierce the skin with a fork. There should still be some resistance. If you’re able to pierce the skin without ANY resistance, you’ve cooked it for too long.
Let the vegetables cool, then peel and chop them coarsely. You may want to prep them separately to prevent the beets from accidentally “coloring” the potatoes. Place the beets in a small bowl, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir once or twice, then spoon them onto a Pyrex roasting pan and roast at 350 F for 30 minutes. Do the same for the potatoes. (You can cook them in the same roasting pan as long as the beets and potatoes don’t come into contact with each other.)
Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the mushrooms to the pan. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to brown and are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, then remove from heat.
To plate, spoon the beets onto shallow serving plates. Spoon the potatoes over the beets. Spoon the mushrooms over the vegetables. Sprinkle each salad with 1 teaspoon scallion-ginger relish, then serve immediately.
2 scallions, sliced (both green and white parts)
1 1″ piece of ginger root, julienned
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 teaspoon orange zest, julienned
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Warm vegetable or peanut oil in a skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the scallions and ginger to the pan. Fry until the ginger becomes aromatic and the scallion greens turn a bright green, about 1-2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer scallions and ginger to a paper-towel lined plate. Let cool.
Once the scallions and ginger are cool, transfer to a small bowl. Stir in orange zest, season with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and cayenne pepper. Use as needed.
Makes 2 servings
Time: About 1 hour, including prep.