I’d been cooking with and eating new potatoes for years before I finally learned that, in fact, I had not. Those cute little red potatoes I’d always called “new red potatoes”? Turns out they are not necessarily new at all.
My education came — where else? — at the farmers’ market, when Franca Tantillo at Berried Treasures Farm proudly showed off a basket of her newly dug potatoes. She explained that potatoes are such good storing vegetables that they will last the whole winter through, so no one makes a tomato-like fuss when the freshly dug ones hit the farm stands along with the peas in early summer.
And do you know what? New potatoes, with their gossamer-thin skins and moist, almost nutty-tasting flesh, really are different—and better—than old potatoes. They have a rich, buttery flavor that needs just a touch of butter and salt to make a memorable side dish all by themselves.
But if you want something with a little more pizzazz, try this savory salad. It’s got a little bit of a lot of different elements, and they all work together to enhance the gentle earthy character of the actually new potatoes, with peas adding a sweet crispness, yogurt lending tanginess, and Dijon mustard and mustard seeds spicing everything up with their warm bite. If you’ve only got old potatoes to cook with, make this anyway. Then follow Ms. Tantillo’s advice and watch for new potatoes when they next come into season. And spread the word; they deserve a bit of fuss.
1 pound new potatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
3/4 cup shelled fresh peas
3/4 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
3 tablespoons plain yogurt (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or chives
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drop in the peas and cook until they are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Place the warm potatoes and peas in a large bowl and gently crush the potatoes (they should remain almost whole).
2. While the potatoes are cooking, in a small, dry skillet, toast the mustard seeds until they just begin to pop, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in the yogurt (if using), Dijon mustard, shallot, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing and olive oil to the bowl with the potatoes and peas and toss to combine. Fold in the mint or chives. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark’s Kitchen by Melissa Clark (Black Dog & Leventhal; 2018)
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