spring potato + vegetable salad.

This salad is a testament to what you can do when you read through a recipe and complete tasks in stages. I don’t even feel like I made this beautiful thing. I feel like someone else made it for me and delivered it to my house. But no one did that; I made this. Am I delirious? Has butter and sugar finally overtaken my brain and turned it to mush? No. I’m just thrilled at having the internet search ability to find a fantastic recipe I could make with the rest of my farmers’ market booty from this week. The result was so satisfying and so simple, I wanted to share it with you. 

In the spirit of this salad, I’ll keep it short and sweet. it’s snap peas, asparagus, radishes, and pickled spring onions, all tossed together with some particularly beautiful fingerling potatoes in a mustardy sauce. Pickled spring onions, you say. that sounds difficult. Guess what; it’s not difficult at all. In fact, it made the onions so luscious, so mellow, so devoid of overpoweringly sharp onion flavor, I may just pickle my onions in every cold salad recipe from now on.

The best part: all of it can be done together, or bit by bit; you can stretch it out over a whole day if you want. Overnight, even. Which is great if you’re busy, or trying to catch up on other things, or just don’t feel like standing in your kitchen for any length of time. Here’s how I did it:

1. Sliced my onions, mixed the pickling liquid together (which took mere seconds), added onions, sealed, placed in fridge. walked away.

2. Scrubbed potatoes, placed them in a pot of water, put the pot on the stove to cook them, removed when finished, drained, left to do something else.

3. Blanched asparagus and snap peas, placed in fridge along with the cooled potatoes, did some laundry.

4. Went to bed.

5. Sliced radishes, whisked together vinaigrette (again, mere seconds to make), removed veggies from fridge, rough chopped asparagus and snap peas, tossed everything together, seasoned, back in the fridge. ran errands.

6. Came back hungry, and look at that: fresh vegetable potato salad, flavors blended, ready to go. Who broke in to my house and cooked? How considerate of them!

Adapted, without many adjustments, from one of my favorite bloggers, Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve never made one of her recipes on the blog before, but i’ve made countless ones for myself. She’s one of the people who inspired me to start doing this. If you’d like to see her original recipe, it’s here.

Spring Potato + Vegetable Salad

for the onion pickles:

  • 3-4 spring onions, depending on size (about 6 ounces)*
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

for the salad:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds small new or fingerling potatoes (my little grouping contains purple, red and some tiny white ones)
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/4 pound sugar snap peas (but you could use green beans also)
  • 4-5 medium radishes, thinly sliced

for the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*a word about spring onions, farmer vs. grocery store: I don’t know about you, but I NEVER see the big, bulbous spring onions like I can get at a farmers’ market in my grocery store. never. If you are not near a farmers market which has fresh spring onions, please take this into account when you make the salad and use the ounce measurement.

I’m going to write this post in order and pretending you’re going to do all of this at once. If you want to do it lazily and in stages because you’re busy or just like to pretend someone breaks in and makes you random salads, use my tips above and just make-and-chill everything until assembly time, with one exception: no radish slicing until it’s time to toss. 

Stage 1: Onions.

First, pickle your spring onions. Whisk vinegar, water, salt and sugar together in the bottom of a small container with a lid (I like a canning jar for this) until the salt and sugar dissolve. Slice the bulbs and paler green parts into thin coins and toss them in the vinegar mixture. Seal tightly and put in fridge until you’re ready to use them; if you can put them aside for an hour or even overnight.

Stage 2: ‘Tatos.

Scrub your potatoes and place them in a medium saucepan submerged in water one inch above the top layer of potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Be sure if you have varying sizes, as I do, that you test a little and a big, removing the littles if needed. Drain the potatoes and let them cool until room temperature.

Stage 3: Green Veggies.

Fill the saucepan you boiled the potatoes in with salted water and bring it to a boil. Prepare an ice bath for your green veggies (that’s a large bowl with cold water and ice in it, people). Trim the tough ends off the asparagus. When the water reaches a full boil, add the asparagus. One minute later, add the sugar snap peas. Two minutes later, drain both together then dump them in the ice bath until chilled. Drain the vegetables and spread them out on towel to absorb excess water.

Stage 4: Assemble.

Chop the cooked asparagus spears and snap peas into 1-inch or so segments and place them in a large bowl. Chop potatoes into bite-sized chunks and add them to the bowl. Cut the radishes as thinly as possible, and cut in half if needed (I kept mine in rounds). An hour or two in advance, whisk the dressing ingredients and toss it with the vegetables, to taste. Remove pickled onions from pickling liquid and toss with the salad. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Remember, potatoes suck up seasoning, so season and taste as you go until it reaches a point where the flavors are all zingy.

Stage 5: Fridge, Season, Serve.

Place back in fridge, covered, until ready to serve. Immediately before serving, remove from fridge and taste; you’ll most likely need to season again. Add more sea salt and fresh ground pepper as needed, and serve to the delight of your co-eaters.

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16 Comments on "spring potato + vegetable salad."

  1. I am on SUCH a salad kick. Last night I made a hearts of palm/avocado salad for my lunches the rest of the week.

    Only I ate a big bowl last night. For, ummm, dessert.

    I did, as I was chopping veggies and such to put in the salad, have a thought of, “Dang. Wonder what THIS salad breaks down to in cost per serving.” Because avocados and hearts of palm now cost as much as a gallon of gas.

    And then I was all, “Jen, you’re doing this for your HEALTH.” and then I felt better.

    • shannon says:

      excuse me, did you say hearts of palm and avocados?! what a dreamy salad conbo! i’m so trying that. and there are definitely some salads i could totally consider dessert.

      are they expensive by you? we have some very inexpensive (and good) avocados up here, so i wonder if that’s geographic? do i live closer to where avocados are grown? i haven’t looked at hearts of palm. we go through the same price fluctuations up here too…right now we have strawberries going up and down (in price, not actually jumping around.)

      health at any cost…that’s what i say. mr. table, in particular, likes this theory. :)

  2. Willow says:

    Nom! Sounds good, and great that it’s so simple to make. Now to find some space in the fridge… :P

    • shannon says:

      thanks, willow! i’m happy to report that your fridge space will be well-occupied; i ate this salad for lunch for days. it discolors the veggies just slightly, but it doesn’t make it taste any less delicious.

  3. Brianne says:

    This salad is all of my favorite things. Yum!

    P.S. I totally squealed when I saw the 3rd Baked book online last night!!

    • shannon says:

      i squealed right along with you! I think I heard you from here. :) i can not wait for that book. sometime we’ll have to discuss what you’ve made from the first two; i love their recipes, but at times they’re hard for me to get right? doesn’t diminish the love, just makes me try harder. :)

  4. Amrita says:

    The one thing that really caught my eye was the asparagus and how tender they are. The ones I get from the usual grocery store are thick, fat ones and so unappealing. I really need to get myself to some farmers markets around town. Also, I love love love the pickling of the spring onions! Bet they were the bomb in there!

    • shannon says:

      amrita, i totally agree! sometimes the fat ones in the grocery can be good if you really work at it (which i am not a fan of), but nothing is as good as the slender asparagus stalks. those onions totally opened my eyes to pickling – i had never done it, and i love onions, but sharp onions i cry about, both figuratively and literally. i hate how they overtake salads, but this pickling trick seemed to really cut the sharpness and add in a lovely sweetness. i’m going to try this with normal red onions and see how it works! because, yes; they were SO the bomb in there. :)

  5. Wow, what a beautiful salad. I’ve made Deb’s recipe before, so I know this salad is a winner. What attracted me to this salad when I first made it was the fact that there was no mayo in it, and it was packed full of veggies and not just potatoes. Look at those beautiful stalks of asparagus. They’re so thin, and they look very tender. Perfect for a salad.

    • shannon says:

      jennie, i love deb’s recipes, don’t you? i felt the same way; no mayo is a nice change from a lot of the summer/cold salads, and i love grainy mustard. i was excited when i saw those thin little asparagus stalks at the farmers market this weekend! we occasionally get them that skinny in the grocery store, but often they are the thick, woody ones. definitely a nice change.

  6. Oh My. You’ve made me so hungry right now. I’ll be making this some time this week, I suspect – thanks for the inspiration :)

    • shannon says:

      heike, you’re so welcome! i’ve been getting my own inspiration from all of you guys, and my cookbook library. normally i’m so busy digging through them for desserts, i forget about the fantastic salads i’m flipping past. it’s been a nice way to get back to eating what i should be eating. :)

  7. Woman, you are rocking my salad lovin’ world. ROCKIN’ IT.

    Enough said.

  8. I refrigerator-pickled vegetables for the first time last month and could not believe how easy it was. I was shocked. They are so perfect to put out on a table at a party or along with cheeses and appetizers! (Not that I’ve had a party in about a year, but still.) I’m in the same situation as far as farmers’ market booty is concerned. We just started a CSA and I have a peck –A PECK– of green beans in my fridge. What the heck am I going to do with all of those?!

    • shannon says:

      you are reading my mind: do you know i also have a batch of spicy refrigerator-pickled cucumbers waiting for me in my own fridge? I was shocked as well, at both the spring onions (because it actually worked AND they tasted good) and by how easy it was. I always thought it was some sort of massive ordeal to pickle things; as it turns out, that’s a myth. you’ll have to tell me what vegetables you pickled, because i’m eager to try more things now.
      do you ever just eat green beans raw? i eat them for snacks, and they’re kinda great with hummus or a tzatziki dip. or sometimes i steam them and throw some sesame seeds and a little soy on them. I was just out in the garden and i have a ton more to harvest, so it looks like i’ll be dining on my own peck of green beans soon enough.
      i love CSA’s because they’re almost like little Iron Chef competitions to see if you can use everything up. Like they dare you to figure out new things, and i dig that.

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