While I was on vacation this past month I missed the first pick-up of my CSA box. This is the first time my husband and I have belonged to a CSA, and I think up until last year we had never even heard of Community Supported Agriculture. Basically we prepaid for the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons, and now we own a small share of local farmland. Every two weeks we pickup fresh local produce that has been specially set aside for us at our neighborhood Whole Foods store. We joined the CSA so we could support local Nevada farmers that use sustainable practices, eat produce that is at the height of its season, and save half the money of what we would pay at the store. Most of the produce from the CSA is harvested the same day we pick it up, so it is much fresher than what is at the grocery store and lasts a lot longer.
Since I was in North Carolina for the first delivery, I made my husband send me a text picture of all the produce I was missing out on (kind of funny when my friends were getting text pictures of their kids from their husbands); I wanted to see what early Spring crops were being harvested around Reno. You wouldn’t think that Northern Nevada could produce much since it is a high-elevation dessert with insanely high wind gusts, but surprisingly we have some very fertile land. Just east of Reno is the small agricultural town of Fallon and there is over 50,000 acres of farmland. Most of the produce from our CSA, the Great Basin Basket, comes from the small family farmers of Fallon. The basket pickup that I missed included: lettuce, chard, green garlic, carrots, beet greens, asparagus, arugula, braising mix, spinach, and gourmet lettuce (all of them organic of course). Quite a lot for the last week of April! Luigi was able to use some of the produce in a fresh pasta dish before leaving to meet me on the East Coast and the rest went to some friends of ours (lucky them!).
The delivery we picked up last week included more spring lettuces but also spring onions and fragrant parsley. Since Luigi and I were attending a potluck BBQ for his Audi Cycling team, I decided to make a healthy Spring Potato Salad using the spring onions, parsley, and spinach. I really don’t care for heavy, mayonnaise-laden potato salad that weighs more than a brick and makes your waist line feel the same. This time of year, when shorts and sandals are just being brought to the front of my closet, the last thing I want is calorie-dense food that packs on the pounds. That being said, I do love the flavor of creamy potatoes especially in combination with the sharpness that comes from acid in vinegar. A healthier version of potato salad is possible, and in my opinion much tastier. The punch of flavor comes from the spring vegetables, and they are intensified by using lemon and white wine vinegar. I added creaminess by making a soft-boiled egg yolk vinaigrette. Really though, this potato salad tasted so good because of the freshness and seasonality of the ingredients I used from my CSA box. It’s only mid-May, and already there is so much flavor coming out of the ground. I can’t wait to see what other recipes I can incorporate local produce; or better yet, I can’t wait to see what new recipes I can create that use fresh local ingredients as the highlight of the dish.
Spring Potato Salad
Adapted from Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 10 Servings
I have made Deb’s Spring Salad with New Potatoes before, and really love the light and fresh flavor. My recipe is a creamier version that still tastes light and healthy, but without the addition of mayonnaise. It has hard-boiled egg whites, wilted spinach, fava beans, and a vinaigrette that is made with the soft-boiled yolks. This salad packs in the protein and can be a meal on its own. It is also the perfect accompaniment to barbecued meat.
2 lbs Small Red Potatoes
1 lb Whole Favas Beans (can substitute blanched asparagus)
6 Breakfast Radishes
4 Soft Boiled Eggs
6 Spring Onions (or green onions)
3 cups Fresh Spinach
1/4 cup Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley – chopped
1 Lemon – zest and juiced
1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar
1 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP Fish Sauce or Anchovy Paste (optional)*
1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
1/3 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
*I added fish sauce because I like how the flavor rounds out the overall taste of the potato salad. It helps to add that 5th dimension, Umami, to the other flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. If you don’t like an underlying fish flavor though, you don’t have to use it (I don’t think anyone I served the potato salad even noticed there was fish sauce in the salad).
- Begin by placing the potatoes and 4 qts of water in a medium-sized pot and bringing to a boil on the stove. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the potatoes cook for about 15 or 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart (cooking time will vary depending on how large your potatoes are). Drain the potatoes and place in a bowl with ice water to cool down more quickly. Once the potatoes are cool, drain the cold water and allow them to dry for at least 5-10 minutes. Once dry, cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the radishes and the spring onions into very thin slices. Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1 TBSP salt, and 1 TBSP honey. Allow the radishes and onions to pickle for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight). When you are ready to make the potato salad, drain the radishes and onions from the vinegar mixture.
- Prepare the fava beans by removing them from the pod. Once you have just the bean, the outer shell will need to be removed. You can do this by placing all the beans in a microwave safe bowl with 1 TBSP of water and covering with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave on high heat for about a minute. This will steam the beans, and loosen the shell. Peel the outer shell from each fava bean.
- Next, peel the soft-boiled eggs and separate the egg whites from the egg yolk. Rough chop the egg whites, and place the soft yolks (they should be cooked, but soft and creamy and not hard and crumbly) into a separate bowl.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the soft egg yolks with the lemon juice and zest, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, whole grain mustard, fish sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly stream in the olive oil while continuing to whisk.
- Toss the potatoes with the shelled fava beans, pickled green onions and radishes, egg whites, fresh spinach, and the egg yolk vinaigrette. You can add additional olive oil or white wine vinegar to the potato salad if you feel it is a little dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.