The weather in July is postcard-worthy on the farm. Everything is lush and full and vibrantly green. The sky is a bright primary blue; fat white clouds drift across it, looking close enough to touch. I take a bike ride in the morning.
I cycle past wide fields striped with geometric lines of tall corn, white painted farmhouses, horse pastures bordered by weathered gray fences that sag in the center.
The heat and humidity edge off in the early afternoon as the sun drops. Sunset is almost too pretty to look at -- the air feels rarified and quiet and the sun spills golden light behind our new barn. Its reflection drips like amber-colored honey over the three ponds.
I cooked on one such night. Champagne cocktails and a leafy green salad. I spooned roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic over a wide loaf of my mother's crusty sourdough bread. But the star of the meal was a humble potato salad from Food52. Now, don't worry -- this version is a far cry from what you'd find in a grocery store deli or school picnic (a sad bowl of clammy mayonnaise-laced potatoes with little in the way of herbs).
Instead, here the potatoes (a mix of purple and tiny fingerlings) are roasted until crispy and golden brown. You smash them slightly -- this helps them absorb the dressing you pour over them while still hot. It's a tangy, bright blend of olive oil, lemon juice, and two kinds of mustard (I know! We fancy, huh). Toss it all with torn basil leaves and scallions, plus some walnuts if you like for crunch.
Not only is it a gorgeous dinner side, it's exceptionally good in an unusual, ask-me-about-my-potato-recipe-why-don't-ya sort of way.
Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food52
4 pounds small potatoes (I used a mix of fingerlings and purple potatoes)
1 bunch basil, torn into small pieces
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Scrub your potatoes, then place them on two baking sheets and drizzle them with olive oil (not included in the ingredients above). Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and roast them for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and beginning to crisp.
Pour the hot potatoes into a large bowl and smash about half of them slightly with the back of a spoon. Just smash them enough to open them -- this will help the dressing get absorbed.
On a cutting board, dice the garlic cloves and smash them with the side of a knife until they resemble a paste. Add the paste to a small bowl and mix with the lemon juice, mustards, and vinegar. Whisk to combine, and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the potatoes, mix in the scallions, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Just before serving, toss with the fresh basil.