Mayo-less Potato Salad

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As a child I hated potato salad.  I don’t know if it was the dry, floury potatoes or the combination of cold potatoes, raw onion and mayonnaise that put me off, but nothing would entice me to eat it! Today I still approach potato salad with a certain degree of trepidation and have yet to find a traditional potato salad recipe that I love.  When spending some time in Germany as a teenager a fairy godmother (and fabulous domestic cook) thought me to make a potato salad that doesn’t require any mayonnaise at all.  This is my version of that salad: it’s my desert island salad!  It’s one that Lentil loves too (even if he picks out a few of the gherkins) and so hopefully he won’t grow up with my potato salad phobia!

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The what:

330g baby new / Charlotte potatoes

2 slices bacon

4 spring onions, sliced

10 mini gherkins, topped and sliced

For the dressing:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbsp of the pickled juice from the gherkin jar

pinch of ground black pepper

Tip: When serving salads, I normally wait until shortly before serving to add the dressing so they don’t become soggy.  However, this salad tastes best if the potatoes are left to soak in the dressing for a while.

The how:

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until cooked.  Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile saute the spring onions in a little olive oil, remove, add the bacon to the saute-pan and cook, turning over half way through.  Once cooked, remove any rind from the bacon and dice.

Once the potatoes have cooled a little, slice and add to your salad bowl.  Toss in the spring onions, bacon and gherkins.

To make the dressing, add the mustard, gherkin juice to a jar, close the lid and shake well.  Then add the olive oil and pepper and shake well again.  Taste test with a potato slice.  Pour over the salad, mix and leave to soak a little before serving (see tip above).

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Aubergine, goat’s cheese & squash salad

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Despite rather cloudy, overcast days, the sun has been making a consistent appearance in the evenings of late providing a great opportunity for some al fresco evening dining!  I’ve been experimenting with a few different salads to have on their own or as an accompaniment to a barbecue.  Here is the recipe for one that passed the Lentil and Papa Lentil test (after a few goes at the dressing!).

Brown, green or puy lentils are usually best for salads as they retain their shape and texture after cooking.  However, I had run out of all of the above and only had split-red left in the cupboard.  The colour actually works well with the butternut squash!  Although they do go a little mushy when cooked: good for Coco and her three front teeth!

The What:

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1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed

40g lentils (brown, green or puy – see above)

100g hard goat’s cheese (or you can use feta as an alternative)

1 red onion, sliced

a knob of unsalted butter

Olive oil for drizzling

Some spinach leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

5 tbsp olive oil

a little black pepper

Tip: I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.

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The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and brush with the melted unsalted butter.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes initially.

Meanwhile, place the aubergine chunks on another baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  When the butternut squash has cooked for 10 minutes, add the aubergine to the oven and cook both for a further 25 minutes.

Rinse the lentils and then put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes (until soft).

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onion on medium heat until caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Once the butternut squash is cooked, chop into chunks and place in a salad bowl along with the aubergine, lentils, onions and spinach leaves (if using). Break up the goat’s cheese and place on top.

For the dressing add the balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and pepper to the jar (or a bowl) and mix well.  Next add the olive oil, close and shake well to fully combine. Drizzle the salad with the dressing or serve on the side.

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For the adults a chilled glass of fruity white wine is a good accompaniment to this salad!

Wedding photos - Carlo Gorgio 582

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