I often wonder how many brilliant culinary creations are the result of neglected ingredients for which someone had no other use. You know what I’m talking about: those Thursday afternoons when you start rummaging through the fridge to make dinner and all you can find are tofu, pumpkin and salad dressing. Or olives, prunes and chickpeas. Or beets, lime and coconut milk. Or avocado and chocolate. Maybe beans and chocolate. Or what about eggplant and chocolate? (trust me, it works).
Sometimes, the oddest combinations of ingredients result in some of the most delectable dishes you’ll ever eat. (Please, someone, tell the HH that this principle doesn’t apply equally when rummaging through the closet the morning before laundry day. Brown and green striped shirt combined with navy blue corduroys and black dress shoes does not a brilliant ensemble make.).
Today’s recipe was developed due to the overabundance of produce in my back yard–basil and jalapenos, to be exact. For the first time ever, my basil just refuses to stop growing (it’s sort of like the Jack Nicholson of basil plants). I am not complaining, believe me. I could eat pesto every day for the next three months and be happy.
The jalapeno plant shooting toward the sky like Jack’s beanstalk* was a bit more of a surprise, however. Last year’s plant yielded about a dozen jalapenos all season. This year, I pick a dozen peppers almost daily, and seems the very next time I glance in its direction, the stems have sprouted a dozen more peppers suspended from the branches, swaying like crystal teardrops from a ballroom chandelier.
I love jalapenos (and the über-frugal hausfrau in me loves saving all that money by growing my own even more), but what to do with 24 jalapenos?? (I am going to try these poppers next. The ones I already made, with homemade hemp goat cheese, were so hot I couldn’t feel my lips for an hour after the first bite. Note to self: remove seeds next time).
[Just look at that creamy avocado-basil action!]
I thought about what to cook. I thought about my burgeoning basil and my proliferating peppers. I thought about the remnants of potato, radish and avocado in my fridge drawers**. I thought about the fact that summer–despite my earnest, protracted entreaties to the Weather Gods and my eardrum-shattering wails of despair ricocheting throughout our house this past weekend when the temperature plummeted to 10C/50 F at night (sorry about that, Girls–I know your ears are delicate)–is on its way out. (Why, oh why can’t I live somewhere where there is no winter? Oh. Right. That would mean moving.).
The cooler temperatures may herald the end of BBQ season, but a good, warm potato salad is never out of place. This recipe combines my love of roasted potato (both white and sweet), my surplus of basil and at least a bit of the jalapeno along with a variation on my original avocado pesto dressing, and–optionally–crumbled tempeh bacon. When gently mixed together, the potato chunks are bathed in the smooth, garlicky pesto dressing, the sweet potato offering a perfect counterpoint to the starchy red-skins. The whole thing is punctuated by just the right amount of crunch from the radishes and a residual heat from the jalapeno. And if you love tempeh bacon as I do, the crumbles contribute a smoky accent that harmonizes beautifully with the salad’s more prominent flavors.
[Even on Day Two, still delicious. Here sprinkled with tempeh bacon crumbles.]
I just loved this salad. I’ve eaten it four times in the past week, and each time have welcomed it on my plate with good cheer and a hearty appetite. If you like unusual flavor combinations and are looking for a new twist on classic potato salad, I’d highly recommend you give it a try. If not, just try adding a bit of chocolate and see how it works out.
* That would be the “other” Jack–not Nicholson.
** Nope, not a typo. If you pop your avocados in the fridge the day before they are perfectly ripe, they will keep for another week in the refrigerator without going bad. Remove from fridge, bring to room temperature, and voilà–perfectly ripe avo.
Roasted Potato Salad with Avocado Dressing
For the salad:
2 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, to your taste
4-5 medium radishes, trimmed and sliced, then cut into half-moons
3 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1/2 batch tempeh bacon, cooked well and then crumbled (optional)
For the dressing:
2 cups (480 ml) fresh basil leaves, unpacked (about 25 g)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dijon mustard
3 drops plain liquid stevia
1 medium just-ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, minced
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) water, to your taste
fine sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, toss the white potatoes with one Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt. Spread out in a single layer on one of the cookie sheets. Next, toss the sweet potato with the other Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt; spread in a single layer on the other cookie sheet (you want to keep the two types of potato separate, as they will cook at different rates and will have to be removed from the oven at different times). Bake 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are just soft and remove from the oven as ready; the sweet potato will likely be cooked first. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the radishes and green onions in a large salad bowl and set aside. Once the potatoes are ready, add them to the bowl.
Prepare the dressing: In a mini food processor or Magic Bullet, place the basil and garlic and process until the basil is finely chopped. Add remaining dressing ingredients and continue to process until a thick, creamy texture is achieved (add water until desire thickness is reached; I like it similar to mayonnaise). Add the dressing to the bowl and gently toss to coat the potatoes. If desired, sprinkle with tempeh bacon and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 generous servings. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
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Last Year at this Time: Baking for George, Brad, Angelina, Ryan and the Gang (peach smoothie) (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
© Ricki Heller