If you roamed earth at the same time as Marcia Brady, fondue and teak veneer, then you would not be blamed for recoiling in horror at the mere mention of potato salad. Often appearing as unrecognisable dice submerged in mayonnaise or impossibly white cubes hailing straight from the can, early potato salads loomed large in glass bowls on buffets and at barbeques alike. Thankfully there was always a plethora of buttered bread-stick from which to extract ones ‘carbs’ allowing the menacing PS to be skilfully avoided.
Fortunately as we grew up, so did potato salad. In latter years it has been permitted to appear at the table wearing its skin and now dressed rather than drowned in mayonnaise. It now invites its friend texture along – so the salami crisps herself up for the occasion. And to ensure the two do not become so visually entangled as to merge into one, fresh aunt parsley attends in her contrasting manner as a wonderful chaperone for the dish.
Like us, ps has improved tremendously with age, so this weekend, build a giant bowl and treat everyone to some grown-up fare.
red-skinned potatoes (eg Desiree) – enough to fill a large bowl
a 250g whole pepperoni salami
1/2 a 235g jar of Thomy mayonnaise
juice of a lemon
cracked sea salt and black pepper
1/2 bunch continental parsley, roughly chopped
Put unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until tender (but not falling apart).
Drain and cut into small chunks and place in large serving bowl.
Thinly slice the salami and cut these slices in half (you may only need half of the salami).
Pan fry the salami until crisp. Drain on paper towel and then add to potatoes.
Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt and pepper and stir this dressing through the potato and salami mix.
Stir through the parsley and serve warm.
Postscript: serve your ps with the grill or barbeque of your choice but if you can rid your home of occupants, it’s the perfect solo fork and bowl couch meal.
How are you at cultivating weeds? Excellent, then you will have little trouble enjoying a thriving horticultural relationship with the nasturtium.
A simple matter of pressing a handful of seeds into less than average soil and applying a generous spray of water will in very little time, result in the appearance of tiny rounded pumpkin-esque leaves. These tender beginnings will only continue to develop into greater wandering vines seeking optimum aspect to settle for bud burst. Turn your attention to matters of the indoors for several days only to be pleasantly surprised, on the unplanned day you chance to pass this patch once more, now lavish and beaming with the rusty orange and golden yellow jewels this secretive perennial has been longing to astonish you with. And astonish you it will.
Let not the display remain outdoors, but gather small handfuls of the gems to be spaced with sprigs of generic winter garden greenery, filling orphaned milk jugs to brighten the bleakness. Interestingly, well after the pricey bunch of hot-housed tulips have dropped their heads, with a swift freshening of the supporting green, the little nasturtium posy shines on.
For me, nasturtium fondness traces back awhile. Back in fact to the base of a mission-brown stained paling fence with a northerly aspect, flanked by a thickness of orange blooms set off by the vivid green. This is the visual I have of the dividing line distinguishing the boundary between my childhood home and the neighbourhood path. With the fence and the home a distant memory, it was therefore without hesitation, when I saw this artwork in our local gallery that I purchased a print. Complete with cabbage moth, who shares an equal affection for the plant, this print provides a restful scene to reflect upon before the bedside lamp clicks off, punctuating the end of another day.
Postscript: Is it too late to add, that both leaves and blooms are wonderful additions to simple tomato, cucumber and lettuce salads? (once you have trained the uninitiated palettes into the ‘appreciation of the peppery’ of course)
If you consider yourself an entry-level gardener, then you simply cannot go wrong by kick-starting your vegetable plot with a row of verdant lettuce.
When tomatoes are barely flowering and beans are just beginning to wrap their tendrils around the rungs of their frame, at least that lovely row of lettuce seedlings that were planted at the very same time (all those weeks ago) have produced a satisfying harvest. This is my gardening impatience coming to the fore, when after daily watering and nurturing, there does not seem to be proportional output from the plot. If a lettuce can be brought to the table in the early phase of the season, that is sufficient to stave off any disquiet and fuel expectancy for the next plants to yield.
Given plenty of water, sunlight and some fertile earth, lettuce, no matter what the variety, is a sure-fire way to build a budding gardener’s confidence. For those who simply cannot wait for their crop to reach maturity, there can be sneaky snips of external leaves, to be brought inside for last-minute salads or into the lunchtime rolls. This actually encourages growth.
To keep a ready supply of lettuce, when the first row have reached adolescence, start off a second row of babies. By the time the adolescents are adult cropping size, your third row of babies can go in. This way, you will have lettuce for your brood and that of every neighbour in your street. Passing surplus vegetables onto friends and neighbours is every bit as rewarding as harvesting for yourself.
In a perfect world, everything on our plate would be grown in our backyard, but that world isn’t quite the one we inhabit right now. However, if you can sit down to a meal with at least one constituent, whose only footprint was rendered from your muddy gumboot, then that is coming close enough in my book.
Postscript: Our mignonettes have all been consumed now, and we are about to start on some crispy icebergs. Had thoughts of a caesar salad the other day, so Cos might have to be next.