Ahhh, potato salad. Who doesn’t love at least one variation of it? From the traditional “deviled egg” style, to German potato salad, to all the other varieties out there, there seems to be a potato salad for everyone out there. Because there are so many different potatoes and so many possibilities when it comes to making a salad out of them, I thought it would be fun to play around with my own version to see what I would come up with. Part of the inspiration came from the beautiful combination of colors in this great bag of potatoes I see regularly at Trader Joe’s (and that I spied at the farmer’s market, too). The bright yellow, red, and blue potatoes look like vibrant little jewels, so it’s hard not to try & come up with non-traditional ways to serve such good-looking produce.
I had to play around with this recipe a couple of times before it came out the way I wanted it to. Though the potatoes were already colorful enough on their own, I wanted to add some green to the rest of these great colors. The French-cut green beans hanging out in my fridge seemed like they would be an interesting addition for their color & texture, and some thinly sliced red onions would add some crispness and flavor. Since I was out of mayo or mayo-making ingredients and had been playing around with new dressing ideas, I thought I might try my new sunflower-seed dressing with this. When I first made this salad, I was sans a working stove or oven, so I made due with what I had and boiled the potatoes to cook them. With the green beans, onions, and sweet & creamy dressing, it was a good salad, it just lacked something. The potatoes just didn’t seem right and I knew it was because they were just boiled. This time around, I lightly roasted the potatoes with some herbs and the difference was incredible! Now the potatoes were flavorful, the textures of all the veggies complemented each other, and the dressing just brought everything together. It’s a creamy, yet not at all heavy potato salad with some crunch, and is perfect for spring & summer picnics or potlucks.
One last thing to note: since this isn’t a mayo or ranch-dressed potato salad, those of you who have egg allergies or just a natural aversion to mayonnaise will be happy to note that you can still partake of a creamy, dairy-free dressing. When processed & pureed with the rest of the ingredients, the sunflower seeds become part of a thick, creamy dressing that is very low in cholesterol and full of other great things like vitamin E and magnesium. This makes for a tasty, guilt-free alternative to mayonnaise, ranch, and other heavier dressings out there. Now, enough with the health talk and on with the show!
Jeweled Potato & Green Bean Salad with Sunflower Seed Dressing (serves 4; total cost per serving: ~$2.25)
6 medium new (yellow) potatoes
6 medium red potatoes
6 medium blue potatoes
1 c French-cut green beans, cut in half
1/2 medium red onion
1 T olive oil
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t tarragon
1/8 t rosemary
1/8 t dried basil
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 fresh ground pepper
1/2 c light olive oil
1/2 c hulled sunflower seeds
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T honey
3-4 T water (for thinning)
1/2 t sea salt
Preheat oven to 425°. Rinse the potatoes well and pat dry. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths (chunks should be about 1-1 1/2″ in size) and place in a bowl. Add the 2 T olive oil and toss together, followed by the herbs, sea salt, and ground pepper. Mix together well so that all of the potato chunks are evenly coated with the oil & herbs. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place in the oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
In the meantime, quickly blanche the green beans by putting them in a pot of rapidly boiling water for about 30 seconds and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Drain & set aside. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the green beans. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients except for the water and puree well until you have a thick, creamy base. The dressing will be very thick & almost pasty at first; don’t worry! Simply add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dressing is about the same consistency as ranch or bleu cheese.
When potatoes have cooled, place in a bowl and add the green beans & onions. Toss together gently. Spoon onto a plate or bowl and drizzle generously with the dressing. If you prefer your salad to have the dressing already mixed in, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing to the potatoes & veggies and fold into the salad until everything is completely coated. Serve as a side or an entree, and enjoy!