June 16, 2008

Asparagus and Potato Salad

We had family over on Sunday to celebrate my son Alex's birthday. I was thinking about side dishes and how I love little boiled potatoes dressed with herbs and olive oil. I wanted something different and saw local asparagus at our Whole Foods. These were beautiful, thin stemmed asparagus and I knew they would look and taste great with the potatoes. I kept the seasoning very simple: olive oil, lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper with the tiniest pinch of cayenne. The key to keeping the asparagus bright and green is to watch it carefully so you do not overcook them and then shock them in ice water immediately after you remove them from the cooking water. The salad's flavors are at their best at room temperature or just a little warm.

Asparagus and Potato Salad
This is a fresh and simple potato salad. If it has been refrigerated make sure you bring it to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
Serves 8-10

2 lbs small potatoes
1 lb asparagus
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste

  • Rinse the potatoes and place them in a large pot, covered with lightly salted cold water.
  • Bring to a boil and boil until cooked through. Poke a test potato with the tip of knife to check for doneness. The potatoes are done when the knife point slides all the way to the center easily.
  • With a wire strainer or slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a plate or bowl. Leave the cooking water in the pot.
  • Bring the cooking water back to a boil. Rinse the asparagus and trim off the woody ends. Chop the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Keep the tips separate. Make up a large bowl of ice water.
  • Place the asparagus (except the tips) into the boiling water. Cook for 1 minute and then add the tips. Cook for another minute and check to see that the asparagus is mostly tender but retains a little crunch. Remove the asparagus pieces from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice water.
  • In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, chives, lemon juice, cayenne, and a little salt and pepper.
  • The potatoes should be still quite warm but cool enough to handle now. Quarter the potatoes and add them to the dressing.
  • Stir gently to coat the potatoes. Add the asparagus and gently toss again. Check for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.