Friday, July 22, 2011

Potato-and-radish 'Caesar' salad

It's getting pretty bloody hot in Boston, which makes quick cold dishes like salads very appealing. A man can only eat so many lettuce salads, however. Potatoes are much more my style.


Potato-and-radish 'Caesar' salad

  • 1 lb. fingerling or new potatoes
  • 1 lb. radishes, scrubbed, sliced thin
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced into crescents
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tsbp. chopped chives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 c. Caesar dressing (see below)

First, we need to prepare the potatoes. Scrub and rinse yours as needed until they're nice and clean.

If you're lucky, all your potatoes will be pretty similar in size. If not, cut the biggest ones into halves or thirds so the chunks are all of similar dimensions. Put them in a pot large enough to hold them all comfortably. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes completely.

Put the pot over high heat, uncovered, until the water starts to boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Cook the potatoes for five to ten minutes until they've just reached the point where a fork will go all the way through the thickest pieces with gentle pressure. Don't over-do it—you don't want a mushy salad! Your smallest pieces will be softer than your largest ones, which is why it's important to get them as close to the same size as possible.

Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the pot, rinse them with cold water to stop cooking, and put them in a bowl in the fridge until cooled completely (a few hours).

When it's time to assemble the salad, slice your radishes thinly and cut your red onion into crescents.

Also, cut up your chives.

So pretty and green!

Toss the radishes, potatoes, onion, lemon zest, and chives with Caesar dressing and serve.

Caesar dressing

Caesar dressing is one of my favorite things to put on a salad. It's creamy, tangy, and complex enough to keep a salad interesting. Making it fresh is, as always, far better than buying pre-made stuff.

This recipe calls for a coddled egg, which is made by putting a whole egg in-shell in boiling water for 45 seconds. This starts the cooking process just enough to get some thickening in the proteins of the white. It does not sterilize the contents of the egg, although it should sterilize the shell, so don't make this if you're immunocompromised or something. Raw egg can also be used (and often is in Caesar dressings), but I find that coddling gives a bit more creaminess to the texture.

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. cider or sherry vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. anchovy paste or 4-5 anchovies in oil
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 c. virgin olive oil

Bring some water to a boil in a small saucepan. Gently add the egg to the boiling water. Cook for 45 seconds, remove, and rinse with cold water until cool. The egg is now coddled.

Combine all remaining ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and purée. When a smooth paste has formed, transfer the mixture to a bowl, then crack in the egg and whisk until smooth. Add oil in a slow stream while whisking vigorously; if liquid oil becomes visible, stop pouring and continue whisking until it's incorporated.

Once all the oil is in emulsion, cover container tightly and chill it in the refrigerator until you need the dressing.

(Makes about 1 cup.)

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