Wednesday, September 15, 2010
One of my favorite wedding gifts came to us or me specifically from a friend of the boy's, who he works with alot, Ms. AB. She was staying at the same hotel as my parents and I happened to run into her just before the rehearsal dinner in the hotel lobby. It was then that she presented me with this beautiful cookbook:
It was even personally inscribed by Ms. Barbara Lynch herself. Ms AB worked in Boston last spring and by some amazing twist of fate became friends with Chef Lynch. Cue the green-eyed monster rearing it's ugly head. She cooks my type of food, and though I've only been to The Butcher Shop getting to the other restaurants is high on my wish list for trips to Boston.
In coming back to Toronto after our honeymoon one of the first things I wanted to do was try a recipe from the book. While I really just want to cook my way through it, I had to pick just one recipe to start. I went to salads as I love salads, but find that lately my salads have been lacking in inspiration. Some fresh greens thrown together with walnut oil and pomegranate balsamic, while nice and something the boy likes have gone from delicious and special to standard and boring. It was in flipping through the "Salads with Substance" chapter I cam upon a salad that took advantage of fabulous Ontario ingredients I had from a recent Farmers Market. While I had nothing in mind when I bought the potatoes, fennel and beans, working them together in this fresh salad sounded positively blissful and something that would go wonderfully with a roast chicken.
Fennel, Cucumber and Green Bean Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Creamy Yogurt
1 lb potatoes, preferably fingerling or other small potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb green beans or a mix of green beans and wax beans, trimmed
1 cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt (Fage is recommended but not available easily in Toronto so I used Liberte)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled and very thinly sliced on the diagonal, reserve a few leaves for garnish
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cut in half, core removed and very thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, peeled, cut in half seeds removed and very thinly sliced on the diagonal
About 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. Heat the over the 350F. Cut large potatoes into 1- to 2- inch pieces, but leave small potatoes whole.
2. On a small baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 Tbsp of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 30 minutes. Cool and reserve, you can serve the potatoes hot, warm or completely cooled in this salad.
3. Meanwhile blanch the green beans in lightly salted boiling water until just tender. Cool rapidly by plunging them into a bowl of ice water, then drain well. Leave whole or slice in half on the diagonal.
4. Combine the yogurt and parsley and season well with salt and pepper; keep chilled until ready to serve.
5. Combine all the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the remaining 3 Tbsps olive oil and a squeeze (about a tsp) of lemon juice. Add a good amount of salt and a few grinds of pepper and toss again.
6. Divide the yogurt among six plates, putting spoonful of it towards the center of the plate, and top the dressing with the salad and some celery leaves.
I halved the recipe for the boy and I and it was perfect as a side with roast chicken, with just enough leftover for my lunch the next day. The crisp freshness of the fennel and celery paired with the coolness of the cucumber and the slightly warm potatoes and impossibly fresh green beans, all tied together with the creamy yogurt dressing was perfect. The salad on it's own could easily be a lunch on Meatless Monday, with the hearty roast potatoes a serving in a half it the perfect lunch size. It was reminiscent of the end of summer and is a salad that will move well into the fall with delicious roasted meats.