For most of the second tier holidays (Easter, New Years Eve, Valentine's Day, 4th of July), it's assumed that Annie and I will conjur up a feast for a select group of friends and family members who may be in town. We spend the preceeding weeks emailing one another with suggestions of what we want to cook, what signature cocktail we plan to serve our guests, what to have for dessert, etc. You can imagine my shock and surprise when she announced that she and Pierson were going to be out of town on some little trip. "But what am I supposed to do?" I whimpered. "I'm sure you'll figure something out," she breazily replied, packing her bathing suit into her suitcase. Selfish.
"Fine!" I thought to myself. "Who needs her?" I decided to tost a little gathering on my own, using Mark's apartment as the venue. You see, my place is far too small. In the past when Mark and I have had people over, I do all the food in my tiny little kitchen and then I haul everything down to his place and set it all up, like a caterer.
So when I set out to plan the menu, I wanted to do something summery and celebratory. I don't have a grill but I wanted barbecue, so I figured pulled pork with a tangy, mustardy barbecue sauce was a nice substitute. Obviously to go with this kind of summery food, you have to have some sort of potato salad. You just do. For the 4th of July gathering that Annie and I threw together last year, we made this interesting potato salad and by all accounts it was the best dish of entire meal. I'd been wanting to make it again and this seemed like the perfect occasion.
The recipe comes from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, and I feel like I ought to point out that for some reason it's not on her website. Isn't that interesting?
(For the dressing)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tabelspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(For the salad)
2 large or 3 small, sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice
1 small red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet just until lightly browned and fragrant
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups loosely packed mixed greens (such as spinach, green-leaf lettuce or Boston lettuce), roughly chopped
Cover and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until they can be easily pierced with a fork, but still offer some resistance, about 8 to 10 minutes. I checked my potatoes after about 7 minutes and they were perfect. Drain and place in a large bowl.
While the potatoes are boiling, make the dressing.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, ketchup,
sugar, garlic, mustard, red pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the cooked sweet potates while they are still hot. Next add the diced bell peppers, red onion, and cumin, but don't add any of the greens or the herbs while the potatoes are still warm. They'll wilt and turn a most unappetizing shade of green. You may place the salad in the refrigerator to chill or you can let the salad sit to come to room temperature. Just before serving, add the cilantro and chopped greens, folding to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if need be. The salad can be served chilled or at room temperature.
I just love the combination of the tender sweet potatoes, the toasted cumin, the crunchy bell peppers and crisp red onion. I chose not to add the cilantro and instead added a hand full of coarsely chopped, peppery arugula. The dressing has a really interesting depth of flavor thanks to the lime juice, dijon, and Worcestershire sauce. In fact the dressing would probably be great on it's own tossed with some sturdy greens like spinach or arugula. The salad is perfect for summer gatherings and picnics since it can sit out at room temperature and it can easily be made ahead and just stored in the refrigerator until you need it.
Serves 6 to 8.