Three Vegetable Tartlets — Arugula — Mint Potato, Pea and Bresaola Salad
I think that you might have a story just like mine. And perhaps you might also have the same love for fingerling potatoes. And oh, by the way, this is not un poisson d’avril — April’s Fool. Really.
I actually did not plan to make us lunch at home on Sunday because in reality, we were supposed to go out for the entire day. We had a lovely plan: a walk by the beach in Rhode Island, and tea with friends on the way back. The weather forecast was more than promising: sunny with clear blue sky, and not freezing temperatures either. The perfect day, we shall call it, non ? But things did not turn out the way we expected. When I woke up early on Sunday morning, I noticed something odd. As I was still lying in the dark bedroom, with the sheets pulled up to my neck, I noticed how cold my nose was. Really unusually cold. I reluctantly dragged myself out of our toasty bed and walked quietly downstairs to turn the heat up. 53 F? That’s not right! And then I remembered the work done on the heating system just a few days before. And then an unpleasant idea crossed my mind. Could this &%$#^#! heating system be broken again after having been just tuned up?
It was. Kaput ! Our plans for the day would obviously need to change. It was cold inside, enough to make my fingers feel numb and my nose stay pitch red all morning!
Do these scenarios happen to you on Sundays as well? Nous ? Always, alors vraiment toujours. I have really noticed that whenever we have a problem with the plumbing or the heating system, it always happens on weekends. Comme par hasard. Once, we found ourselves with an inch of water in the kitchen when the dishwasher broke, just a day before leaving for France; another time, it was one pipe that burst leaving me without water for the Saturday dinner I was preparing for friends. I know well, there are worse things that can happen. But when these happen, no matter how I try to reason myself, for a second, or two, it is a real pain. La poisse ! (French slang for bad luck)
“Le gars de chez Thermoil vient aujourd’hui ?” (The guy from Thermoil is coming today?) I asked P. in a bit of a panic at the thought of hanging out all day in a feels-like-a-freezer house . Even the sun outside would have no chance to warm us up. Perhaps a soup would? But we were somewhat souped-out, and I had decided to pause on soups, at least for a day! It never lasts longer.
“Yes, they are coming in an hour.”
Luck had switched gear, heading towards a more promising direction. Only in America!
By the time the service man was done with his fixing work, it was well past a reasonable time for us to still leave for the day, and drive for well over an hour before reaching our planned destination. We needed plan B.
Lunch was a must; later in the day, we would take a walk at Walden Pond, closer to home.
“Tu es vraiment incroyable,” I told P. when I saw him gulp down the potato salad before touching anything else on his plate. I had prepared one with green peas, the first I had been thrilled to find at Whole Foods, a large bouquet of beautiful mint which scent had caught my attention while I was shopping for other things, and thin slices of lean Bresaola purchased with Bayonne ham at my favorite deli in town.
“What is in the dressing?” P. mumbled with his mouth still full. I looked up at him and burst into one of my heavy — and unfortunately loud — laughters ( I will not tell you what my dad says it sounds like when I laugh.)
I was kidding, of course. But I knew that, as much as P. knows me well, he was not going to guess this one easily.
I don’t use tahini sauce — and almond butter — the way I used to when I was still a vegetarian. Back then, they were probably much more part of my regular diet. I am quite fond of the wide range of nut butter and spreads we can find. I enjoy them simply spread on a piece of toast — have you tried to combine tahini and honey on a piece of bread? — or mixed in a soup to round it, or in a salad dressing. I find tahini to give a sauce body, a fuller and deliciously nutty taste, perfect for a potato salad. I often add lemon juice and a touch of mustard for a more pronounced flavor, and finish with a flavorful extra virgin olive oil.
The recipe for this potato salad is simple: small Yukon or fingerling potatoes — my real favorites for their concentration of flavor and firmness — and spring green peas are gently blended with a minted tahini-based dressing, with musty and sweet slices of Bresaola, hard-boiled quail eggs and sprinkled gomasio. This dish makes excellent comfort food, ideal eaten as part of a casual lunch, for a summer meal taken outside under your favorite cherry tree, or even packed for a picnic. Really! I have tried this salad in all occasions.
On our lunch table, there were also vegetable tartlets made with three different vegetables and an olive oil, brown rice and poppyseed crust, served with a side arugula salad tossed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. But all P. seemed to care about was actually the potato salad — watching his enthusiasm for it was actually nice.
Perhaps we did not manage to follow our initial Sunday plan, but in the end everything fell into place: we recovered a heated house, had a tasty lunch and enjoyed a fun walk in the woods and around the pond. And, when coconut milk chocolate pots de crème came as a way to finish our Sunday afternoon, I knew well that, well really, our day had been pretty good.
I hope that yours was just as good.
For the salad:
- About 600 g small Yukon potatoes, or fingerling potatoes
- 1 cup peas (shelled and fresh, or frozen)
- 12 quail eggs
- 8 slices of bresaola (or 4 slices of Parme or Bayonne ham)
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint, chopped + extra leaves
- 1 tablespoon gomasio*
*Gomasio is a traditional Japanese condiment sprinkled on food in place of table salt. It is typically a blend of sesame seeds and sea salt, with other spices. It can be found in organic stores or in Asian stores
For the dressing:
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon French mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the eggs in boiling water for about 3 min. Cool in iced water and break shells. Cut in halves and set aside.
- Cook the potatoes until tender in boiling water (or steamed). Let cool, peel and cut in big chunks; set aside.
- Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 2 min. Rinse under iced water and set aside.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the ingredients in this order: mustard, tahini, lemon juice and oil.
- In a large salad bowl, toss gently the potatoes and peas. Add the fresh herbs, the bresaola, the eggs and the chopped herbs. Sprinkle with gomasio and decorate with mint leaves. I suggest not mixing the salad with the sauce too early as the potatoes have a tendency to suck the sauce!
Pour la salade :
- Environ 600 g de pommes de terre variété ratte
- 125 g de petits pois écossés (frais ou surgelés)
- 12 oeufs de caille
- 8 petites tranches de bresaola (ou 4 tranches de jambon de Parme ou de Bayonne)
- 1 càs de persil, haché
- 1 càs d’estragon, haché
- 1 càs de menthe, hachée + quelques feuilles
- 1 càs de gomasio*
*Le gomasio est un codiment typique du Japon, que l’on utilise à la place du sel de table. C’est un mélange de graines de sésame et de sel de mer, avec d’autres épices diverses selon la variété. Ils se trouve en magasin diététique ou dans les magasins de produits asiatiques.
Pour la vinaigrette :
- 1 càc de tahini
- 1 càc de moutarde forte
- 1,5 càs de jus de citron
- 4 càs d’huile d’olive
- Sel et poivre
- Faires cuire les oeufs pendant 3 min dans de l’eau bouillante salée. Rinsez-les sous de l’eau glacée et écalez-les. Coupez-les en deux; réservez.
- Faites cuire les pommes de terre dans de l’eau bouillante (ou à la vapeur). Une fois cuites, égoutez-les et laissez-les refroidir. Pelez et coupez-les en gros morceaux; mettez-les dans un saladier.
- Faites cuire les petits pois pendant 2 min dans une casserole remplie d’eau bouillante salée. Rinsez-les sous de l’eau froide, et ajoutez-les aux pommes de terre.
- Préparez votre vinaigrette en mélangeant les ingredients dans cet ordre: moutarde, tahini, jus de citron et huile d’olive.
- Mélangez la salade délicatement avec la vinaigrette, et ajoutez les herbes, les tranches de et les oeufs de caille. Saupoudrez de gomasio et décorez avec des feuilles de menthe. Je suggère de ne pas assaisonner la salade trop longtemps à l’avcance car les pommes de terre absorbent beaucoup la sauce.