Look, I understand that in the wake of this awful, brutal attack in Orlando this weekend, it might strike people as odd to be writing about, of all things, potato salad.
But to me, it makes sense. When things like this happen, when you’re bludgeoned by the news and the media and the ugliness of what human beings can do to one another, the thing that makes most sense to me is to tuck in, regroup as best you can, and try to take good and tender care of one another. It’s important, even when things feel impossible. Even when there’s so much hate in the world–actually, especially during those times.
It’s in these exact hard times when we need to remember how much love matters. How important it is to show and honor that love and nurture the ones we love best, because I promise you, the Beatles weren’t wrong: Love is the Answer. We Know that for Sure.
For me, I love best through food. It’s always been my truth. So even though others might not get it, that’s what makes sense for me.
Right now, it’s about love via potato salad.
When Daddy-o comes up for Sunday lunch, I’ve been focused on making a big batch of something he’ll be able to take home with him and nosh on periodically over the week. Although he’s doing an admirable job of feeding himself–particularly the healthy salads at dinnertime, which I’m proud of him for making–it eases my mind and makes me feel so much better if I know I’ve sent him home with a Plan B. for the week.
He’s accusing me of spoiling him, and I always reply that it’s my honor and my pleasure to do so. I plan on spoiling Daddy for as long as he’ll let me. Plus, that brown-eyed rascal is no fool–he knows I’m doing this more for me than for him. I generally try to keep these take-home care packages on the healthy side: vegetable slaws, assorted veggie stir-frys with a rainbow of colors (corn, snap peas, red peppers, scallions, fresh herbs), grilled lean meats like pork tenderloin with a savory glaze. I feel good about him tucking into those dishes.
Sometimes, though, I send him home with something a little more decadent, potato salad being a prime example. My Daddy-o has a soft spot for potato salad in all forms, because he loves all things mayonnaise. Mama and I used to tease him about his love for the white stuff; we’d watch him slather his sandwiches and remind him that “mayonnaise is not a beverage, you know.”
But hey, a guy deserves to live a little. Plus, I do try to pack a lot of vegetables into my potato salads, so I don’t feel too guilty. He shouldn’t feel guilty either; with his consistent exercise routine and a vegetable-forward evening meal, he’s managed to drop 7 pounds in two months, which is quite an accomplishment.
I wish I could say the same for myself. While Daddy’s been walking every morning, I’ve been couch surfing. He’s inspiring me to do better, though. It’s time for me to lace up my own walking shoes. If he can drag himself out of this hole, I can, too. At least I’m going to try. Baby step at a time.
This past week, I sent him home with a potato salad inspired by a recipe I saw by Ben Ford, a California chef and the son of some guy named Harrison Ford. Did you know that Harrison Ford had a famous chef son? Me neither, but I think that’s pretty cool! Clearly, Ben had a completely different calling than his father.
I tweaked the recipe a little by adding some red pepper for color and some herbs to the dressing, but other than that, it’s pretty straightforward. I thought the addition of green beans was an interesting touch, and it made me happy to see them…those extra veggies, you know.
This salad is not the prettiest, because let’s face it–potato salad isn’t ever going to win any beauty contest. It’s dang delicious, though, and that’s what matters at your backyard barbecue. The salad will keep well for several days, so if you don’t have a huge crowd at your cookout, you can still enjoy it later. Or you could send the leftovers home with your favorite potato salad afficionado.
Father’s Day is coming, and there will be lots of fanfare and firing up the barbie at Chez T. I’m planning on trying out some new recipes, so stay tuned. Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope you spend it with people you cherish. Hold them close, tell them you love them and put some good, honest food in your belly.
Potato Salad with Green Beans and Herbs
slightly adapted from Ben Ford
1 pound small new potatoes
1 pound thin, small green beans (haricot verts)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2-2/3 cup sliced scallion (or shallot or red onion)
1-1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry or white balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of parsley and tarragon)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add new potatoes and cook for about ten minutes or until tender enough to pierce with a sharp knife. Add small green beans to the pot and boil for 2 minutes longer. Drain potatoes and green beans and rinse with cold water. Pat dry.
Slice potatoes into 1/2-inch slices and halve green beans. Place in a large bowl and add bell pepper and scallion.
Whisk together dressing ingredients and add to potato mixture. Toss well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine. Before serving taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.