The Dinner Project: Week 9

March 15, 2011

The other night we boosted a grill from our neighbor’s yard. Now, before you go on thinking that Drew and I are of the thieving type, we were actually doing that grill a favor. Our neighbor moved out more than a month ago and no one has since moved in, and that lonely grill was just sitting there in the bushes, all rusty and haggard, its wheels falling off, just begging to be given second chance. And as it turns out, the very thing our backyard was missing was a grill, so really, it was a win-win situation for all parties involved.

And did I mention it was 73 degrees on Saturday? It would almost seem wrong for that grill not to partake in weather as great as that. So we scoured and scrubbed, or to put it more accurately, Drew scoured and scrubbed, and gave that grill a face lift. Then we grilled up some steak tacos, topped ’em with homemade mango salsa and served ’em alongside my new favorite, Green Goddess Potato Salad from the Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern cookbook. I am normally not a huge fan of mayonnaise based potato salads, I am more of a dijon mustard sort of girl, but I recently discovered how easy it is to make homemade mayonnaise and was then even more inspired by the fact that it doesn’t even remotely resemble the gigantic vats of mayonnaise I’ve had to deal with throughout all my years in the food service business.

Or perhaps it really just all boils down to the fact that the “Russian Dressing Incident” I had at Zingermans more than 12 years ago has caused me to have a lifelong aversion to nearly all creamy mayonnaise based dressings. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was another busy day at the deli and I ran downstairs to grab a huge 30 pound vat of russian dressing and as I was carrying it up the stairs a co-worker of mine didn’t see me coming, crashed into me, and in a split second the lid slipped off the container and I found myself standing there with 30 pounds of pungent orange dressing running down my pants, seeping into my socks and shoes. And to answer your question, the answer is no, there is nothing more disgusting than the feeling of russian dressing squishing between your toes.

So lucky for you, this potato salad resembles nothing like that which I’ve just mentioned. It is delicious, bright and herby and citrusy, and if you can swing it, I’d say make it as far ahead of time as you can. The recipe says you can make it up to two days ahead of time and after eating the leftovers the next day, I see why, everything just mixes and blends and seeps and it ends up tasting even better.

So here’s to someone else’s junk leftover in a yard turning into a rather lovely barbecue! It is, quite possibly, one of the finer forms of recycling.

Green Goddess Potato Salad

Adapted from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern Cookbook

Preparation time: about 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes for the potatoes

Serves: 4


2 Tbsp, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste (or just adapt if you’re using regular sea salt)

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (or don’t peel them like I did)

1/2 cup high-quality store-bought mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s or Duke’s (or make your own!)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (white and green parts only)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste


1. Fill a 4-quart stockpot half full with water, add 2 Tbsp of the salt and the potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until just fork-tender but cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes (depending on size of potatoes).

2. While the potatoes cook, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, scallions, parsley, tarragon, vinegar, lime juice, remaining 1 tsp salt, and the black pepper together in a large bowl.

3. Drain the potatoes well and add them to the bowl; toss with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature (as the salad loses its heat, it will absorb the dressing). Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, March 7 – Soft corn tortillas filled with brown rice, black beans, onions, baby spinach, salsa & queso fresco

Tuesday, March 8 – Asparagus artichoke risotto (this was so unbelievably delicious, it tasted of spring!)

Wednesday, March 9 – Dinner at a friend’s friend: Stir fry, homemade egg rolls (yum!) and banana creme pie for dessert

Thursday, March 10 – Pasta with baby spinach, parsley, garlic and artichokes

Friday, March 11 – Take out calzone with gyro meat, mushrooms, olives & feta

Saturday, March 12 – First BBQ of the season! Grilled steak & onion tacos with homemade mango salsa, served alongside green goddess potato salad (photo and recipe above)

Sunday, March 13 – Pasta with caramelized onions & sauted napa cabbage, with a dollop of sour cream on top that brought it up to the next level of deliciousness


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