On nights when I come to my parents house for dinner, my mom and I often exchange lots of emails trying to work out the menu. But yesterday I came over early, so we got to have our discussion in person. It usually goes something like this:
“So what should we have for dinner?”
“Well, I saw a recipe for X in Y that looked fantastic.”
“That sounds great. I saw a recipe for Z that also looked good.”
“Ooh, that sounds good too, but it doesn’t go with X.”
“You’re right. How about A instead of X? That would go nicely.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think it’s exactly the season for that.”
“What about B? That goes with Z.”
“But the ingredients for B would be best from the farmer’s market tomorrow. How about we have X and C?”
And so it goes on, until we finally settle on a main dish and some veggies that fit our requirements: (1) sounds yummy, (2) dishes complement eachother, (3) ingredients are in season, (4) makes a well-balanced meal. It usually takes us a while, and sometimes we end up taking ideas and pieces from different recipes and creating our own. That’s exactly what happened last night.
I was in the mood for green beans, and we were planning to grill some scallops and serve with a Meyer lemon relish from a Chez Panisse cookbook. My mom thought that maybe we should have some potatoes, since we’ve been eating bread for our starch a lot lately. Since we were grilling the scallops, we thought it would be fun to grill the green beans and potatoes as well. We saw a recipe for a French green bean salad in one of Jamie Oliver‘s cookbooks, and the dressing sounded great. I thought we could combine the beans and potatoes and toss them with the dressing. So that’s what we did.
The result is a fantastic grilled green bean and potato salad that is so simple to prepare. Good hot or at room temperature, it would make perfect picnic food. The dressing is boldly flavored with plenty of mustard, white wine vinegar, shallot, and capers, and the potatoes and beans have that slightly smoky grilled taste. I can’t think of a protein that this dish wouldn’t be at home next to—anything from boiled shrimp to grilled pork cops to filet mingon would benefit from a little of this grilled salad on the side.
Grilled Potato and Green Bean Salad
This grilled salad is just as good at room temperature as it is hot of the grill. If you don’t have a grill, you can roast the potatoes and green beans in the oven instead.
1 lb small Yukon gold potatoes, thoroughly scrubbed but not peeled
1 lb green beans, trimmed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp good-quality prepared mustard
2 tbs white wine vinegar
5 tbs olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbs capers
Heat a grill for a medium-high flame.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and place them in a pot of generously salted cool water to cover by 2 inches. Heat the pot on the stove over high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium-high and boil for 4 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Blanch the green beans in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately run under cold water or submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking and retain the green color. Drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, whisk the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly add 3 tbs olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and several generous turns of black pepper, and then the shallot and capers. Stir to combine.
Now, sprinkle the potatoes and beans (separately) with salt and freshly ground pepper, and then toss each with one tablespoon of olive oil. Grill the potatoes over medium high for about 10 minutes, turning once, until cooked through. Leave the lid of the grill closed for most of the time. About 5 minutes into the potato cooking time, add the green beans to the grill (being careful not to drop them through the cracks! use a rack if you have one).
When the potatoes are cooked through and crispy, and the green beans are lightly charred, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the mustard-vinegar dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve immediately.
Note: The potatoes, green beans, and dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store separately, and simply bring to room temperature and toss them together just before serving.