This flavor-packed main course salad is bursting with summer bounty.
Life is different when you live way out in the country. There's no traffic, no neighbors, no gang activity, no building codes! You can spent eight years putting up a big metal barn house, leave the doors unlocked, crank up the music, and let your seven donkeys bray through the night all they want. You can have seven donkeys in the first place.
On the other hand, there's no mail delivery, no cell phone reception, no 911 service, and no high-speed Internet connection.
And the closest halfway decent supermarket is 40 miles away.
People who visit our remote Missouri farm usually have one of two reactions. It's either, "Wow, I would love to live in a place like this!" or "How in the world do you stand living out here—and where do you get a cappuccino at three o'clock in the morning?" Most men say something like, "This is great, but my wife would hate it."
It's all a tradeoff, and one I'm happy to make—except for the supermarket part. Dashing to the store for a bunch of cilantro or a lemon is simply not an option. It took me three weeks to get the Kalamata olives for this salad. We do, however, have our own little commercial espresso machine, which definitely helps.
Recipe below. . .
You learn to adapt—and go without. My definition of seasonal eating? Stuff yourself with whatever there's plenty of, like the eight pounds of easy to grow Swiss chard I recently harvested from the greenhouse. Or the bounty from the 30 jalapeno pepper plants, 20 eggplant plants, and 250 feet of potatoes I (for some crazy reason) planted the first year I gardened in the country, back in 1995.
Four varieties of homegrown onions planted March 31st and picked in late June.
Beautiful summer produce is at its height right now, and all the fresh ingredients in this scrumptious main course salad are in season in many places. I used arugula, parsley, thyme, and red onions from my kitchen garden, new red potatoes from our Amish neighbors, and some Arkansas grape tomatoes I broke down and bought because my cherry tomatoes still won't be ready for weeks.
Freshly picked rucola selvatica arugula and Parris Island Cos lettuce
The closest arugula for sale around here is 60 miles away, but thankfully this peppery, fast growing green is easy to grow from seed. And as a member of the brassica family (think broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), it's also really good for you. Arugula prefers cool weather, but this year I tried growing a spicier, heat tolerant strain called rucola selvatica, and it did great despite several days above 100°. What you see above is actually the second cutting.
If you can't find arugula, some nice crunchy romaine (also called cos) lettuce would work well too. Or use a combination of the two. My favorite variety of romaine, pictured above, is an heirloom variety called Parris Island Cos, which tastes great and is amazingly heat tolerant.
New potatoes aren't a specific kind of potato, they're simply the first young, thin-skinned potatoes of the year that are dug up and eaten right from the ground, rather than being cured first. There's no need to peel them; just scrub off any dirt (some of the skin may scrub off too). Look for this seasonal treat at farmers' markets.
Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a light main course or 6 as a starter — Adapted from Fine Cooking
The combination of ingredients and the vinaigrette are what's most important here, not the specific amounts. Once you've made the recipe, you'll be able to toss everything together more quickly the next time.
The crisp potatoes taste great on their own, and the flavorful dressing is nice on other salad greens too. Use what you have: regular potatoes will work fine, as will yellow or white onions. A combination of those cute little yellow and red pear tomatoes would look very pretty. Chunks of larger tomatoes will give you a juicier salad.
To make this a more substantial meal, simply add some slices of leftover grilled chicken or steak. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients. They really do make a difference.
8 ounces baby arugula (about 12 loosely packed cups), washed and spun dry (or chopped romaine lettuce)
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives (about 15), finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon plus 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (optional)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons water
1 pound red or Yukon Gold new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely diced red onion
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 scant cup)
8 ounces small ripe cherry (or grape or pear) tomatoes, halved (1 heaping cup)
Optional: Grilled chicken or steak
Place the arugula in a large bowl.
In a food processor (I use the cool little inset bowl on my 12-cup food processor), pulse the vinegar, olives, mustard, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, and the garlic (if using). While processing, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the olive oil and 3 Tablespoons of water. (You can make the dressing ahead of time or while the potatoes are cooking.)
Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet (I love cast iron skillets) over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds. Add the diced potatoes, sprinkle them with the salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes start to get brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it's soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and the remaining Tablespoon of thyme. Salt to taste.
Toss the arugula with about half of the vinaigrette; you want it lightly coated. Portion the arugula onto four (or six) plates. Top it with the potato and onion mixture, the meat if using, and then the feta and tomatoes. Drizzle each plate with some of the remaining vinaigrette (you may not need it all) and serve.
© FarmgirlFare.com, where something is always in season.