My herb garden is overflowing already with fresh parsley, mint, and lovage. There is a sprawling oregano plant, and tall fronds of dill. Herbs are the chief reason I garden, and this time of year I am just looking for ways to gather their crisp, welcome fragrance into my kitchen. Here's one simple recipe that takes full advantage of herbs — from the garden, or from the market — tender, creamy potatoes tossed with a lemony dressing, fresh spinach, and handfuls of parsley and dill. From my herb garden, to your kitchen table.
Like all potato salads and tossed potato dishes, this one calls for the dressing to be poured over hot potatoes. Hot potatoes soak up the olive oil and lemon juice as they cool, so try not to let the potatoes cool too much before dressing and tossing them.
But this recipe calls for the potatoes to be cut in half (or even quarters, if your potatoes are larger than the center of the palm of your hand) — how do you do this with hot potatoes? I simply toss the cooked potatoes in a colander to drain, and then take a small, sharp paring knife and slice them in the colander. Jab the knife in and cut the potatoes in half; no need to pick them up or put them on a cutting board. Just slice away, shaking the colander to get to potatoes in the bottom. Then toss them back in the pot or a bowl, and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
And raid your own herb garden or the market for other herbs to try in this salad. Mint would be delicious, of course, as would cilantro, lovage, extra-spicy summer arugula leaves, and sorrel. Look for the freshest, yummiest baby greens you can find, especially if spinach vanished along with the cool weather. You do want a lot of greens, here; this is a big salad with some potatoes, and some greens. There's nearly as much spinach as potatoes, especially before it wilts — a true salad from the garden.
serves 4 to 6
2 pounds extra-small Yukon Gold potatoes
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
5 ounces fresh baby spinach, well-washed
2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, leaves only and loosely packed
2/3 cup fresh dill, fronds only and loosely packed
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt the water generously. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are quite tender and creamy. Slit each potato in half and return them to the pot.
In a measuring cup whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and sugar. Whisk until well-combined — it will be thick and opaque yellow. Pour over the hot potatoes and stir gently until the potatoes are coated with dressing.
Slice the spinach leaves into thin ribbons. Mince the parsley leaves (discarding the stems) and the dill fronds as well. Add the spinach, parsley, dill, and shallots to the potatoes, and toss gently. The spinach and herbs will wilt as they are combined with the hot potatoes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve hot, warm, or cold.
(Images: Faith Durand)