Fingerling Potato, Fig, and Tarragon Salad

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Most of my favorite recipes - those to which I return time and time again - were passed along to me by friends and family.  I have a collection of cookbooks that I love to peruse and I zealously read cooking magazines and tear out recipes, but there is nothing better than someone telling you that you must try this recipe.  Certainly it is less risky to make something already attempted by someone you trust, but what I enjoy even more is the shared experience.  Even if you don't make the dish together, it can make you feel like you did. 

J casually mentioned this Fingerling Potato, Fig, and Tarragon Salad in an e-mail about what she planned to make for a dinner party that weekend.  J and I used to live in the same city and neighborhood and could meet for an afternoon coffee or an evening viewing of How I Met Your Mother.  This is no longer the case and I miss her dearly... texting back and forth about hilarious moments during HIMYM is just not the same, and while simply making the same salad isn't either, this recipe will always make me think of J.

I harbor a secret love of potato salad.  I love it in all forms, even when it comes form a grocery store deli and is covered in mayonnaise.  It tastes like summer, picnics, eating off of paper plates, wearing flip-flops, and basking in the sun. 

In this recipe, the potatoes are coated in olive oil, mustard, and fresh herbs.  The dressing is light and serves only to complement the potatoes, the figs, and the olives.  While I could only find dried figs, J tells me that she has had luck making this with fresh figs, as well as different types of stone fruit.  I'll certainly make this again when Colorado peaches are in season.

I must admit that making this dish was inherently selfish.  Rob doesn't really like potato salad.  To add insult to injury, this dish contains not one, but three food Rob would prefer to never eat - parsley, celery, and raw onions.  I tend to cook things that Rob will enjoy, but sometimes my only child tendencies kick in and it is all about me.  For this salad, it was worth it!  Sorry, Rob.

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Fingerling Potato, Fig, and Tarragon Salad

From In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard

Yield = 4 servings 

Ingredients

1½ pounds fingerling potatoes (if fingerling potatoes are unavailable, substitute other small new potatoes), scrubbed and cut lengthwise in half

6 bay leaves, preferable fresh

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch dice

12 dried figs, preferably Turkish, stems removed and cut lengthwise into quarters (when available, this would be great served with fresh figs or other stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines or plums)

1 small red onion, chopped into ¼-inch dice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

¼ cup chopped pitted green olives

Preparation

1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and add cold water to cover by ½ inch.  Add the bay leaves and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the potatoes to cool in the water.  Drain, removing and discarding the bay leaves.

2. Whisk the mustard and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl to form an emulsion.  Continue whisking while slowly adding the olive oil in a thin, steady stream.  Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

3. Just before serving, combine the potatoes, celery, figs, red onion, parsley, tarragon, and olives in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss to coat.  Taste, season with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve.

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