Sunday, August 17, 2014

Farmer's Song: Purple Bean and Potato Salad


                                             “This is my way to say thanks for the meal,
                                                 and I hope there’s no shortage of rain.”*

Farming at any level, whether it’s industrially scaled, mid-sized or small, isn’t easy. There are so many variables and concerns every day of the season. Particularly nagging is the question of will it all work out financially.
In a recent opinion piece written by a farmer and published in the New York Times, the author, himself a farmer, recounted attending a farm to table-style dinner. Sitting with the other farmers who provided the food, talk turned to profit margins and business models. The author admitted to working other jobs just to help make end meet. Yet he persists.
For the small farmer, farmers markets are one way to connect the farmer with the buyer. I always like seeing the activity of people looking, selecting, asking questions, and buying in order to make a meal to share and nourish.
On a recent Saturday I selected ingredients from one farm, Just  Kiddin’ Around Farm, who makes the weekly trip to our market from Germansville, a trip of almost an hour. Just Kiddin’ Around is neighbors with my friends, Mark and Catherine Muszynzski, who run Curious Goods at the Bake Oven Inn restaurant; their menu relies on locally sourced ingredients as often as possible.
The ingredients reflect what I selected but there is plenty of room for substitutions, such as a different variety of potato. The beans could be “plain” green beans, or even wax beans. You could use a sweet onion or even scallions. I left the beans raw; if you use another bean, you can precook them if you desire.
Purple beans get their color from anthocyanins. The bean is not purple all the way through, only on the surface. If you cook them they turn green, so I left them raw in the salad.

Purple Bean and Potato Salad                                                               

For 8 to 10 servings
1 quart Yukon gold potatoes (about 1pound 10 ounces)
1 ½ cups purple beans, sliced into ½ “ pieces
½ cup diced red onion
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ cup basil, cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
Grated zest of one lemon
1. Rinse the potatoes under cold water and shake dry. Remove any surface blemishes and cut the potatoes into roughly 1” pieces. Place the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Season the water with salt. Cover the pot and place over high heat and cook until tender, about 10 minutes; the point of a knife should just pierce the potato
to the center. Remove from heat and drain in a colander, shaking off excess water. Spread the potatoes in one layer onto a paper towel lined baking tray and let cool. Refrigerate the cooled potatoes until completely chilled.
2. While the potatoes are cooling, make the dressing.
3. When the potatoes are cold, remove them from the refrigerator and place them into a bowl. Add the sliced beans, diced onion, herbs, and lemon zest. Add enough dressing to evenly coat the potato salad; it will take about 3/4th of the amount you made. Mix together until all of the ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning; the potatoes will probably need some extra salt. Cover and refrigerate the salad until serving.

Potato Salad Dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2  cloves garlic, (to your taste), minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Transfer the dressing to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed.

           ‘Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real, from a kid from the city to you.”*
                                             *Farmer’s Song by Murray McLauchlan

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