Day Ten: One Potato, Two Potato….Salads, That Is!

We had a good hike this morning–one with a rather steep gradual incline, and we’re going for a paddle in the kayak later today, so this afternoon, I was looking for something healthy, but substantial for dinner.

I have a bag of those fabulous little thin-skinned red potatoes I’ve been dying to use, so I was looking for a recipe that includes them. I had high hopes for this recipe from FatFreeVegan, which sounds delicious (and also has quite a few very high reviews).

wpid-20150803_130400.jpgAccording to the recipe, you just brown the potatoes in a pan sprayed with cooking oil for about ten minutes, then toss in some chickpeas for a few more minutes….

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Then toss in the rest of the ingredients, followed by a handful of spinach (though I used Swiss chard because my spinach isn’t harvestable yet.

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Sounds great, right?

wpid-20150803_133201.jpgThe problem is that…even with cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, fresh rosemary and basil…it was kind of dry and not super tasty.

What it needed was some freakin’ dressing.

Now, I happened to have three (recently made) vegan dressings in the fridge, so I tried an experiment and tossed a bit of the hot salad with a bit of each of the three dressings:

wpid-20150803_133728.jpgThe Caesar Chavez dressing (left) kind of overpowered all the other flavours; the cashew cream (right) was actually pretty good, but the clear winner was the vegan ranch dressing I made a few days ago!

I tossed the rest of the warm potato salad with a couple of tablespoons of the vegan ranch dressing while it was still in the pan. The dressing warmed up a bit and the result is really delicious!

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Obviously, the recipe is no longer fat free (which is the point of the recipes on FatFreeVegan), but the vegan ranch dressing is low-fat, and I used only enough to coat the salad very lightly.

So…here’s my adapted recipe:

Warm Potato and Chickpea Salad tossed with Vegan Ranch Dressing

Ingredients (Doubled and slightly adjusted from the original recipe)

8 ounces unpeeled red nugget potatoes, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup cooked canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped small

2 Tbsp red onion, chopped

4 crimini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

a couple of handfuls of Swiss chard

cooking spray

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne

salt, pepper to taste

Directions (these are taken directly from the original recipe):

1. Heat up a heavy-bottomed nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, add cubed potatoes, spray them with some more cooking spray, stir with a spatula to distribute them evenly over the pan, and cover with a lid. Cook for 8-10 min, stirring every 2-3 min to prevent the pieces from sticking to the pan. Meanwhile, chop onions, pepper and mushrooms.

2. The potatoes are going to be almost done when they form a nice brown crust, and slide easily across the pan. If you pierce a piece with a fork, it should go in easily. Once the potatoes reach this point, add chickpeas, cover with a lid, and cook 2 min more.

3. Remove the lid, add onions, peppers, mushrooms, salt and all of the spices. Continue to cook another 2 min, stirring often.

4. Stir in a handful of spinach [or Swiss chard!] leaves. As soon as they begin to wilt, take the pan off the heat. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped fresh basil leaves [I didn’t think the basil added to the flavour, so I didn’t include it.

Now, back to my adjustments: toss the salad with a few tablespoons of vegan ranch dressing/dip (just enough to coat):

Vegan Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup low-fat Veganaise
1/2 cup almond milk
juice from half a lemon
handful of fresh chives
handful of fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup white onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Blend all that up in the bullet. It’s better if left in the fridge overnight. This recipe makes a cup and a half and the dressing is about 15 calories a tablespoon (about 28 calories per liquid ounce), so it’s not that bad at all.

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Plus, it tastes SUPER rich and delicious (almost like the Keg salad-bar dressing used to taste in the seventies)!!

So….the verdict for the hot potato salad–post adjustments–is 6.5/10.

To be honest, it occurred to me as I was tasting this adapted version that the dressing would likely taste even better on a regular, cold potato salad (which J loves). So I boiled up about a pound of the little nugget potatoes, chopped four green onions, and three celery stalks and mixed it all up with about a half cup of the vegan ranch dressing. Then I topped it with a sprinkling of paprika (just like mom used to do).

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I served a bit of both on a bed of freshly picked butter lettuce, but neither of us ate the hot version. As for the cold version–yum–8/10…would do again!

And now the wind’s come up, so it looks like we’ll have to postpone our paddle (or risk being soaked and tipped!!). 😦

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