This is the time of year when you see a lot of thick, mayonnaise-y potato salad. It reminds me of childhood and hot summer days. There's something comforting about it when it's done right. But that form of potato salad is a little on the heavy side for me to be making these days and to be eating in the Texas heat. This version is lighter, much fresher, and a little more interesting for a grown-up palate.
You simply roast some potatoes -- I recommend the toaster oven to avoid heating up the whole kitchen -- and blanch some fresh green beans. Both are easy to find in the farmers' market nowadays. Toss those together with some parsley, Kalamata olives, and some crumbles or shards of Pecorino. (Pecorino is a hard Italian cheese made from sheep's milk. It is similiar to Parmigiano Reggiano, with a tangy, salty flavor.) You can crumble a bit of leftover bacon in there as well. Olive oil and a splash of balsamic become the dressing. The flavors here are bold, but when married with the potatoes, they compliment each other instead of competing.
Note, this potato salad is really at it's best when you can contrast the still warm and crispy roasted potatoes with the cold green beans and olives. It's still good if you wrap it up and take it to a picnic, but the potatoes will lose their crispiness so I recommend eating it immediately.
Roasted Potato Salad
2 lbs. new potatoes, cut into quarters
coarse sea salt
2/3 - 1 lb. green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, cut in half
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup shredded pecorino cheese
2-3 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle with olive oil and toss on the baking sheet to coat. Sprinkle a little salt over top. (Go easy here, the olives and pecorino are also salty, so you don't want to go too far.) Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and give the potatoes a turn to expose their undersides. Return to oven. Roast approximately 10 more minutes until edges are golden and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.
While the potatoes are roasting, drop the green beans into boiling water for 4-5 minutes to blanch them. They will turn bright green. You want to remove them while they still have some crunch and that bright color. Immediately drop them into an ice bath (fill a bowl with ice and water) to stop the cooking. When cold, drain well.
In a large bowl, place your drained green beans, parsley, olives, a splash of olive oil and the vinegar. Toss together. Just before serving, add the crispy potatoes, and sprinkle the top with pecorino shavings and bacon, if using.