Back to my roots: Bill Granger relives his youth with a trio of peppy potato salads
Sunday 28 April 2013
Spring is here, and not just because the calendar says so but the blue skies, blossom-covered trees and the tweeting of birds outside my bedroom window in the way-too-early morning are proof that our never-ending winter is finally over.
Personally, I gave up on the warming stews even before the weather warranted it, but now that all the British vegetables are coming in, I'm able to make large salads and call them a meal without everyone looking at me as though I'm crazy.
My mum's cooking almost killed potatoes for me – not that she prepared them badly, but we had them every night of the week when I was growing up. It took a while for me to come back to them, but the beautiful range you get in the UK, especially at this time of year, has won me over and reminded how wonderful they can taste. My family often laugh now whenever I suggest making a salad with potatoes – "Not again, Dad!" – so the challenge is on me to keep them different and interesting.
The best tip I can give anyone is not to drown potatoes in mayo or thick dressings. Instead, keep salads fresh and vibrant with the best of what the British spring has to offer: peas, asparagus, broad beans, soft fragrant herbs… How could anyone get bored?
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Indian-spiced potato and pea salad
I like to serve this warm with simply griddled chicken breast for dinner. Any leftovers make a great cold lunch, perhaps with some naan and a dollop of thick yoghurt.
500g/1lb new potatoes, quartered
1 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g/3½oz fresh peas, podded weight
3 spring onions, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced
Handful coriander leaves
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until just tender and drain. Place the red onions in a bowl and squeeze the juice of the lemon over. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook until the seeds start to pop. Add the turmeric and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Tip in the cooked potatoes and fry for 5 minutes, turning often. Add the peas, spring onions and chilli. Season with salt and toss for 1 minute. Leave to cool for a few minutes before folding through the red onions in lemon juice and the coriander leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Roasted new potato, asparagus and mozzarella salad
The contrast between the warm roasted vegetables and the cool milky mozzarella makes this a real winner.
400g/13oz new potatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle
Juice and zest ½ lemon
1 red chilli, sliced
125g/4oz buffalo mozzarella, drained and torn
Few basil leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Place the potatoes in a large roasting tin, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss in the asparagus. Increase the oven temperature to 220C/425F/Gas7 and return the tin to the oven for 10 minutes.
Tip the cooked vegetables into a serving dish. Toss through the lemon juice and zest, chilli and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside for 5 minutes. Fold through the mozzarella and basil and serve warm.
Crushed boiled Jersey potatoes, hot-smoked salmon, broad beans
I think life is too short to skin broad beans, but if you don't agree, feel free to skin away. The only thing I'd insist on is that you dress the potatoes while they're still warm, so they soak up the flavours.
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp grainy mustard
500g/1lb Jersey Royal potatoes
250g/8oz broad beans, podded weight, defrosted if frozen
400g/13oz hot-smoked salmon
4 spring onions, shredded
Handful mint leaves, torn
2 tbsp roughly chopped dill
To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, vinegar and mustard together in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 12 minutes. Add the broad beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain well then tip into a bowl. Roughly crush the potatoes with a fork, then stir in the dressing. Set aside to cool.
Flake the salmon over the salad and fold through with the spring onions and herbs. Serve immediately.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds
Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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