appy St.Patty’s Day folks! In honor of the fighting Irish and their love for potatoes I thought a easy, quick potato dish would be appropriate. Plus, I got to use some of that flashy Lemon Thyme I was telling you about.
We’ll be partying in high Irish fashion at Megs parents place tomorrow, piling down some corned beef, cabbage, Kathy’s Irish Soda Bread and polishing it off with a Guiness or 5.
Megs is half Irish, but I’m not so this recipe is a riff on a traditional Calabrese Potato Salad I saw a long time ago on Lidia Bastianch’s tv show. For those who don’t know, Calabria – the tip of the Italian Stiletto, is known for their peppers and feature sweet, spicy, dried, or powdered peppers in almost every dish.
NOTE: On a train from Napoli to Reggio di Calabria an adorable nonna once told me to only purchase sweet peppers with 3 chambers or nodules on the bottom. Why? I don’t know, but I’ll put my money on that lady’s pepper knowledge any day.
Insalata di Patate Calabrese
8-10 Red Potatoes
4 Red Peppers (cubanelle or longer peppers work best)
Handful of Fresh Thyme, Oregano, or Basil
Olive Oil, High Quality Red Wine Vinegar, Salt, Pepper
Start first by boiling your potatoes in salted water. In a large pot add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil with the potatoes in the cold water to start. This will keep them from becoming mealy. Turn off the heat once the potatoes can be easily pierced thru with a knife. Leave them in the warm water until you’ve completed the other steps.
For the peppers, crank up your grill and throw the peppers onto the hottest section with no seasoning at all. Turn to char on all sides, allowing the skin to bubble and wrinkle.
Once charred on all sides, about 5 minutes of high heat, remove and place into a paper bag. Seal tightly and relax for 10 minutes.
Sit back, have a Manhattan’s Special, and allow the peppers to steam in the paper bag. This step will help separate the charred skins from the supple flesh and make peeling the peppers that much easier.
After 10 minutes, remove the peppers and peel off their outer layer like it’s prom night! This may take a little practice but they should slide off easily with a light scraping from your knife. When the skin’s removed cut off the tops, remove the seeds and cut the pepper into thin strips.
Now you’re ready for your potatoes. Cut the taters roughly into bite sized pieces and toss into a bowl with the pepper strips. Toss lightly. To complete add a generous drizzling of good olive oil and a splash or two of quality vinegar. This creates something like a salad dressing for the potatoes instead of a clunky, heavy mayo-based lubricant. Lightly chop your herbage, whether it be Lemon Thyme, Basil, Oregano or whatever, and toss the salad thoroughly, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
A rough estimate would be 1/4 Cup Oil to 2 Tbs. Vinegar but mix to your liking, everyone’s preferances are different. Me, I like the vinegar to shine thru making each bite tangy and sharp. The use of Thyme, something untraditional but stellar, adds a lemony-hum to the party that fits seamlessly. The potatoes, warm and absorbent, suck up the vinaigrette like a sponge while the peppers add a smoky, fruity flavor to balance everything out. This is best served room temperature but is just as tasty out of the ice box the next day, maybe even more.
Hope you lads and lassies like me taters, they’re proper eating them is!
Paulie’s Spark Notes: 1. Boil Some Taters 2. Grill Some Peppers 3. Drizzle with this, Splash with that 4. Nosh