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Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs

There is nothing better than a backyard cookout when the weather finally warms up. This spring has been a bit brutal and chilly so now that we have finally been blessed with some warmer temps and lovely sunshine, I see a lot of grilling out in our near future.

We had to work on Memorial day, but we took a break in the late afternoon so I could finally plant some veggies and herbs in my gardens and Mark could mow the lawn. It was insanely hot on Monday so after working hard outside we decided it would be the perfect day for this summer’s inaugural grilling session. We desperately need to get to the grocery store and farmers market after all of this traveling so I decided to make do with what we had on hand. We pulled out two delicious smoked pork chops, from Sojourner Farm, out of our freezer and I realized I could whip together a quick potato salad. I had a beautiful bunch of arugula that I grabbed from the Farmers Market in Brooklyn last weekend so decided to improvise and create this salad. I make so many variations of this grilled potato salad throughout the summer since it is so easy to toss together and it’s so full of wonderful flavors. You can play around with different herbs, substitute baby spinach or other lettuces for the arugula and even play with different vinaigrettes, like mustard based, etc.

This salad has so many great fresh, summer flavors from the herbs and arugula and the potatoes get a beautiful brown crispiness. I promise after the first time you make a grilled potato salad, you will see all the possibilities and be hooked on it throughout the summer, as we are. Additionally, it is a  naturally gluten-free and vegan side dish.

Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs

Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs
serves 4

4-5 medium organic russet potatoes (approx 1 – 1.5 lbs), skin left on, cleaned and sliced 1/4″ thick on the short side
1 bunch of fresh arugula, roughly chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 large bunch of fresh chives, chopped thinly
1 bunch of fresh oregano, roughly chopped (any other fresh herb you prefer can be used here)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using a mandoline slicer, evenly slice the potatoes into 1/4″ slices. If you do not have a mandoline slicer, you can cut them by hand, just be sure they are all similar thickness so they cook evenly. Place the potato slices in a medium saucepan and cover with water, add a dash of salt. Bring them to a boil over a high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer potatoes until just fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking. Once cooled and drained, gently toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (you need just enough to coat all the potatoes, but you don’t want too much or it’ll cause a flare up on the grill), and a dash each of salt and pepper, so they are all evenly coated. You can also add a small amount of the fresh herbs in at this time, if you want to get some extra flavor.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Add the potatoes to a nonstick grill pan, basket or wok (I have one like this, that I love), and place on the grill over the flames. Since the potatoes will not be in a single layer, you will want to toss them gently and often so some don’t burn while others don’t get browned. It will take approximately 20 minutes to cook all of the potatoes thoroughly and for them to be nicely browned. If any get caught in a hot spot and cook too quickly or begin to burn a bit, I just remove them early. If you don’t want to mess with a grill basket or pan, you can cut the potatoes the long way and cook them directly on your grill in a single layer, this takes only about 5 minutes per side. (Our grill’s grates are a bit too wide and we lose too many this way, so to avoid frustration we go with the pan).

While the potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl add the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, mix well to combine.

Once the potatoes are cooked, place them in a large serving bowl, add the arugula and dressing, gently toss to combine everything. The arugula will begin to wilt a bit with the heat from the potatoes but will keep that nice crunch. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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Last night after we left the studio, we had planned on throwing together something quick and heading to the grocery store to grab what we needed for the next week. By the time we got home, the sun was still shining and neither of us felt like grocery shopping, so instead I decided we could make do with what we had at home and put the grocery store off one more night. I am glad we did.

We had a bag of baby potatoes and some delicious handmade veggie burgers from the Farmers Market, so I decided we would be able to do something amazing with these plus some frozen organic peas.  Both my oregano and chives came up on their own from last season and they are growing out of control, taking over my herb box, so I have been trying to take advantage and use them in almost everything I make. Since we were firing up the grill for the brown rice and spinach burgers, this sounded like the perfect way to make a side dish with the potatoes. They really turned out great. There was so much flavor from the fresh herbs and the crispy smoke flavor from the grill was perfect. I think we will be making this a lot this summer.

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Grilled Herb Potato Salad
serves 4

30 baby potatoes, halved
coarse kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, halve two of the cloves, mince the third
olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup of pine nuts
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Start by precooking the potatoes. Add the halved baby potatoes, a tablespoon of course salt, two cloves of garlic (halved) and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch to a medium-sized pot over high heat. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.

Drain potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool quickly and stop the potatoes from cooking.

Start your grill, preheat with the cover on for about 10 minutes on high. Lightly spray a grill pan with cooking spray to keep the potatoes from sticking (if you do not have a grill pan, you can also thread the potatoes onto skewers).

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the diced shallot, minced garlic, the chopped fresh herbs, plus 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix the mixture to combine the ingredients and then remove half of the mixture to a small bowl, set aside. Add the potatoes to the large mixing bowl, and toss to coat the potatoes with the oil and herb mixture.

Pour the potatoes into the grill pan and set onto your hot grill, we got a bit of smoke because of the little bit of oil dripping, but it gave the potatoes a great smokey flavor. Give the potatoes a stir every few minutes to make sure they aren’t sticking. Once you are sure they aren’t sticking, you can stir them last which will allow them to get crispier. Cook them over a high heat for approximately 15-20 minutes until they are fully cooked and starting to brown and crisp up a bit. (This time will depend on how hot your grill is, we couldn’t get our grill super hot so it took a bit longer, it may only take about 10-15 minutes on a very hot grill). Remove the grill pan from the heat, and add the potatoes back to your large mixing bowl, add the remainder of the oil and herb mixture, the pine nuts, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine. Enjoy.

(This can also easily be made by roasting or broiling the potatoes in shallow baking pan in your oven. The potatoes can also be boiled 1 day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before boiling)

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