Summer salad days are here. Bijouxs kicks off the season with a familiar old friend, potato salad and introduces a new friend to add to the table. Warm Potato Salad with Purslane & Pancetta – an unusual new little jewel.
Potato salad just says summer. Farmer’s markets are beginning to burst with produce and this salad begins the summer season. Baby fingerling potatoes in hot bacon dressing, thanks to crispy pancetta, and a warm welcome to a new green friend, purslane.
Cruising the farmer’s markets looking for little jewels has long been a favorite pastime. Like a crow I am attracted to shiny objects and unusual produce whenever I see purslane I smile, and grab a bunch or two. Part of the joy of cooking is working with new ingredients and expanding your world of tastes.
Purslane is a tart, lemony green, actually a succulent that appears in many cuisines around the world. Locally in California, you can often spot it in farmer’s markets or markets that carry produce used in Latin cuisine and it goes by a variety of names. Seeds are available; I may even give a shot at growing it myself. A substitute for purslane is watercress, and in this salad arugula or baby spinach will work as well.
This warm potato salad recipe is adapted from the California issue of Saveur magazine, which featured recipes from a road trip featuring our state’s greatest chefs; this salad is by Margaret Gardé of Manka’s Inverness Lodge. A classic take on my family salad recipe for hot potato salad, but lighter in calories with the addition of stock to complete the dressing, and the addition the crisp, tart fresh crunch of purslane. Nothing revolutionary – just delicious.
After the baby fingerling potatoes are boiled in the stock, to give them an extra dose of flavor, I make the salad dressing the old-fashioned one-pan version. Cubes of pancetta are fried until crispy golden brown, along with some dried minced onion (or fresh, but I was reaching for a bit of the old familiar) then removed from the pan and the remainder of the dressing and salad are completed right in your trusty Bijouxs Basic cast iron skillet.
Serve the salad right from the pan, or dress it up and serve as a salad course as I did here, starting with a cool gazpacho soup, and your favorite meat off the grill. If you are substituting the purslane, mound the greens (watercress, arugula, or baby spinach) on a large platter and top with the hot potato salad, serving each portion with a bit of the greens.
Welcome summer- salad days are here.