Thursday, July 19

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

Arugula salad with pan-fried herbed potatoes, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and kalamata olive vinaigrette -
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 harvested in June -
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 heat tolerant salad greens - rucola selvatica arugula and Parris Island Cos lettuce -
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.

(18-14) Pan fried new potatoes with red onion and herbs from the kitchen garden
These pan-fried potatoes are also tasty straight from the skillet.

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 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.

©, where something is always in season.


  1. Oh my gosh Susan, this looks fabulous! Funny you'd mention the arugula, I took 1 look and wondered how you had arugula with all the heat you've been having :)! Of course, you explained. I think I may try that one for next year. I love having arugula, but it kind of annoys me because I wait for the leaves to grow a bit large and it seems to go from small to bolting! Maybe time to break down and buy a different. (Have been saving seeds from about 15 years ago, and they might not be a good variety for me.) Biggest cheapskate I know :)! Love the potatoes too and cast iron. Stay cool my friend!

    1. Hi Cary,
      I was really happy with this new strain of arugula, which I bought from Pinetree Garden Seeds ( And I know exactly what you mean about arugula's growth habits. At first I thought the leaves on this kind were going to stay really tiny and was a little disappointed, then they had a growth spurt, and then I swear the next day they started bolting. :)

      I also was afraid the leaves were going to be a little bit too spicy for my taste, especially in the heat, but I have to remind myself that nibbling a leaf plain in the garden is a lot stronger than tossing it in a salad. The taste was great. Now I just need to order some more seeds!

  2. Wow - great salad! And though I don't live as remotely as you do, I can empathize with the searching for 3 weeks to find a certain olive, since our local markets are limited. As always, I'm in awe of your garden produce, really and truly beautiful.

  3. This sounds so yummy! I love arugula... Makes me want to grow some in my own backyard. Great post!

  4. This looks so fresh and delicious! I'm on the "I'd love it" side of the fence when it comes to living on your farm. I adore living vicariously through you!

  5. What a lovely salad! :)
    I can relate to not being able to just run out to the store for a forgotten item too. Sometimes, ya' just gotta 'make do'!
    On a completely separate note, I posted a recipe on my blog today for Ginger Cream scones and I remember you saying you like to 'collect' scone recipes! ;-) More importantly though, I FINALLY took a foodie photo that I really like! LOL!!

    1. Hi Candy,
      Ha, you're right - I am always on the lookout for new scone recipes and your recipe sounds wonderful. Great photo. :)

      I've been meaning to make ginger scones for ages (they seem like they'd be perfect with a cup of tea, don't they?), so I'm thrilled I won't have to start from scratch coming up with a recipe. Thanks!

  6. Sounds simply delicious, and perfect for this heat.

  7. What a delicious, healthy salad, just my kind. And thanks for the info about the more heat tolerant varieties. I might give these a try for early fall here in Dallas. I have to plant in pots and move them several times a day to get enough sun, as we're mostly shaded here on our city lot, but it's worth it to have anything that's homegrown! Have a great weekend! Cheers, Andrea

  8. Kalamata olives and feta with potatoes. Can't get better than that. I hear you about running to the market when so far away. I'm 35 miles....and forgetting an item is cause for a major come apart! Yes, adapting....and it is surely an art. Beautiful pictures as always.

  9. This salad will go with me to a potluck party next weekend. I love how substantial it is. Can't wait to make the kalamata vinaigrette. Never would have thought to put kalamatas in the dressing; usually put them on the salad. Already pitted kalamatas can be had a mere 12 miles from my kitchen - the price of living in paradise...

  10. Yep - totally will make this. And I'm grateful that I don't have to wait three weeks for olives. Though, you know, I love the rest of that country equation. Particularly the donkeys :)

  11. Yeah for Missouri!!! Although I'm in STL and have plenty of close stores! Good Luck with this heat!

  12. LOL I know just what you mean about the 'two reactions' Susan ~ when peeps exit their car at the farm here it's wow I'd love this as you said or (as has happened numerous times) they whip out their cell phone to do a signal check... Just sends me into laughter when I see the cell phones emerge - as tho they've just landed on Mars roflmao

    I've long enjoyed your posts, pics, recipies et al. Thought it about time I say 'hullooooo' and 'Thank you'!

    Issy (who has a grocery a bit closer than yours but it's an oh-so-basic sort 'o grocery store).

  13. In my attempt to have a healthy, not-so-heavy dinner last night, I suggested this salad. My family is a "meat and potatoes" kinda gang so of course their responses were a bunch of moans and groans it being JUST a salad. I added chicken to "beef" it up into a hearty dinner salad and it was a hit! We will definitely be making this again.

    Thank You! =)

    - Rae.

  14. I think this was the best salad I've ever had, or close to it! And I didn't even grow my own veggies. Yum. I had it as an entree with garlic bread, and it was very satisfying. Mmmm.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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