Mama mia, what sweltering heat! And I’m loving it. To make the most of this sudden burst of summer a picknick at the beach was exactly what the doctor ordered. And whenever I think of the beach one meal in particular comes to mind; potato salad. It seems that no matter what continent you live on, if there is a beach there just has to be potato salad. Growing up in a Surinamese household that meant a good old seventies inspired one called “huzarensalade”. This particular one was smooth with a mellow pink hue from the (canned) beetroot and insane quantities of mayo that were mixed through the potato mash. Usually slivers of poached chicken breast were mixed in together with chopped gherkins, pearl onions, canned corn kernels and a good squeeze or two of ketchup. (He, these were the seventies after all). My mom and aunts used to have unofficial huzarensalade contests and I must say that til this day I still like my mums best. She would adorn it with slices of boiled eggs, cubed beetroot, dollops of mayo and ketchup and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
You can imagine that when I set out to make my own modern and lighter version of this dish, mayo and ketchup just had to go. Sorry mom, no offense. Also anything canned wasn’t making the cut either. Fresh corn being in season that could of course stay. Homemade boiled beetroot would have also been a good addition but I had eaten one too many a beetroot while testing this recipe and needed a break from it. I also wanted something that was lighter and brighter. Less earthy in flavour but rather fresher to counterbalance all the external heat we’ve been blessed with this week.
So I opted for peas. Their pretty green colour so suit all the lively colours present in Mother Nature right now. And I knew their natural sweetness would have a cooling affect as well. So far so good. But I needed something to bring the whole thing together. Something to seal the deal so to speak. And it sure wasn’t gonna be storebought mayo! And in popped the idea of a pea pesto that I have used as a spread on crostini’s many times. This pesto is unctuos without being cloying. And you can use any and all green herbs you have available and which are at their flavour peak right now. I used plenty of dill, basil and some chives, but would have definitely used mint if I’d had any. Pecorino added the salty note and garlic the punch. While olive oil was the real deal sealer making it all creamy and luscious.
The salad I ended up with would definitely elicit a good deal of frowns from my more traditional female relatives, but hopefully after trying it they’d come round. However I decided not to push my luck by naming my salad anywhere near the one it was based on. As, where I come from, that alone my friends may have be considered a reason to disown me….. So mom , auntie Edith, auntie Mildred and all the others. This potato salad has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with yours. I will not enter it in the contest. But I can tell you this, healthwise this hunk of green and yellow goodness is an absolute winner!
This salad is best for Pitta and Kapha as Vatas can easily become gassy from potatoes. Use the minimum amount of olive oil needed to make a fairly smooth paste as both Kapha and Pitta do better with little fat. If you prefer you can also leave out the avocado if you are battling a serious Pitta or Kapha imbalance to make it even less fatty. For Kapha you could add a small piece of green chillie or ginger for a little extra heat.
Potato salad with pea pesto (For 3 to 4 persons)
450 grams potatoes in medium size cubes (leave the skin on if organic)
- kernels from 1 1/2 sweet corn cobs
- 180 gram frozen peas
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- 30 grams pecorino
- 3 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
- about 10 sprigs of chive
- 8 grams basil leaves
- 8 grams dille
- 100 – 150 ml extra vergine olive oil
- 1 avocado cubed
- radish sprouts for garnish (optional)
- garden cress for garnish
Bring water to the boil and blanch the peas for just 3 minutes until they are done but still crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Pour through a sieve to remove all moisture and set aside in a bowl.
Now bring the water back to the boil and add some salt. When it boils put in the potatoes and lower the heat to medium. Check after 10 to 12 minutes to see if the potatoes are almost done. At this point they should still be slightly underdone. Add the corn kernels and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes until the potatoes are done but still firm. Test them often by the end of the cooking time by pushing the tip of a knife in the center of the potato.
While the potatoes and corn are cooking make the pesto by mixing half the cooked peas, all the herbs, the pecorino, garlic, half the sunflower seeds, 100 ml of the olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until you have a smooth paste. Add some more olive oil if necessary. Taste for seasoning and set aside until the potatoes are done.
Once the potatoes and corn are done pour them through a sieve and rinse with cold water. Drain them really well and transfer to a bowl. Let this mixture cool a bit before mixing in the pea pesto, the whole peas and the rest of the sunflower seeds. Taste for seasoning one last time. You can eat the salad lukewarm right away and garnish with the avocado cubes sprinkled with some coarse sea salt, radish sprouts and cress. Or leave for the flavors to infuse in the fridge overnight. Serve at room temperature the next day.