I have doubts on sprouts
But peas they please
And parsnips give me pleasure.
But of all the veg
I give this pledge
Potatoes are my treasure.Extract from “King Spud” © 2010 Nick Balmforth
Mr. Balmforth, author of those lines, is clearly a man after my own heart – a heart that fairly swells with pride when my little potato treasures start to blossom, signalling to the world that new potatoes are not far behind.
At the head of my new potato posse are a few mavericks – the offspring of stray spuds that have lingered long enough to produce roots and shoots of their own. Having had a head start on the seeds planted this year, the next generation of last year’s Shetland Blacks and Colleens are all ready for me to meet and eat.
And when presented with a crop of small, firm new potatoes, it is the most natural thing in the world to want to turn them into potato salad.
Potato Salad with Feta Cheese
When it comes to making potato salad, the possibilities are, of course, endless. If, however, you had just made feta cheese for the first time, then into that potato salad the feta cheese would go. (There will be a full report on the feta cheese making in due course, though I hasten to add that making your own feta cheese is not a requirement for this!)
If you don’t have small, new potatoes, you can really use any waxy potato here – just halve or quarter larger potatoes before boiling so that you end up with roughly even-sized pieces.
The recipe also calls for roasting a head of garlic, with around 6 cloves of roasted garlic used in the dressing – if you roast more than than that, you can always just eat the leftover cloves of roasted garlic as is or spread them on toast.
- 1 small head garlic
- olive oil for roasting garlic
- 75g walnut halves
- 800g new potatoes
- salt for boiling the potatoes
- 8-10cm sprig of rosemary
- 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tblsp lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon (about 2 tsp zest)
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 150g feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 4 tblsp mint, finely chopped
- 4 tblsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- Separate 2 cloves from the head of garlic and reserve. Remove the outer layer of papery skin from the rest of the head and slice off the top, just to expose the cloves. Wrap the head of garlic in foil and pour a tsp or two of olive oil over the exposed cloves. Roast for around 35 minutes or until the cloves are completely soft. Meanwhile, prepare the walnuts and potatoes:
- Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and place in your hot oven for around 5 minutes or so, until lightly toasted (they will burn easily, so keep an eye on them). Remove, allow to cool a little and chop roughly.
- Scrub the potatoes and peel and lightly crush the 2 reserved cloves of garlic. Bring about 1.5l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 2 tsp salt, a sprig of rosemary, the pieces of crushed garlic and the potatoes. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 15-20 minutes or until just fork-tender.
- When the potatoes are done, drain well and return them to the saucepan. Let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for 5-10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, dijon mustard and black pepper. Mash about 6 cloves of the roasted garlic and mix with the dressing.
- Roughly chop the still-warm potatoes into bite-sized chunks and toss with the dressing. Add the crumbled feta, spring onions, walnuts, mint and parsley and stir to mix. Taste and add more of whatever you think it may need.
- If I’d had kalamata olives, I would have added some. You could also add capers if you like.
- Potato salad servings for around 4.