All summer days should be like this: A slow start with coffee, maybe a bacon-and-egg English muffin; a couple of hours working in the garden before it becomes unbearably hot; a quick bout of errands; a few hours seated on a rock face over a Berkshire lake, eating berries warmed from the sunshine, dipping in and out of cold water; then home to make an easy meal that can be eaten at room temperature.
My life is too busy to always look like what I just described, but I'm committed to quality over quantity. I'm also committed to not turning on my oven on 90-degree days, but I will use the stovetop if it's really worth it.
My recipe for you today is really, really worth it. This is a potato salad for people who hate mayonnaise (me), and subsequently, one that can be left out at room temperature, or eaten cold, or warmed back up if you want. All you need to do with your stovetop is boil water to cook the potatoes and saute some nuts with olive oil and anchovy paste. The rest is counter work. The stunning umami from the anchovy colliding with the cool, clean taste of dill is so summery — but also a little bit of a surprise, especially during your typical potluck picnic situation.
Potato salad with dill, lemon, anchovy
Serves 2-3 (or more as a barbecue side)
(The dressing in this recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit, though their version is a lot more involved and has quite a few different ingredients.)
1 bag of new potatoes (tri-color or one color, your choice, but I love eating tiny purple potatoes)
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or 1 to 2 tinned anchovies, diced up, plus a little oil from the can)
1 handful pecans, coarsely chopped
1 handful of fresh dill, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced fine
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (Adding in layers — use a lot!)
Use a large pot to boil water. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stir, then add potatoes and boil for 25 minutes, or until a fork can glide in smoothly. Drain and set aside.
Using the burner that's already heated (turn down to medium), saute oil, anchovy paste and pecans with a little salt and pepper, maybe 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grate lemon zest into a bowl and add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Then pour your hot anchovy-nut oil on top of this and mix well.
Cut new potatoes in half and toss in a larger bowl with chopped dill, then add dressing and mix well. Finish with a little extra salt and pepper. Serve, or chill and eat cold.