Monday, July 1, 2013

A bit more about swapping ingredients

New potato salad for the win! Also, I hope my food photography improves over time.

This weekend I did some grocery shopping at the Blacksburg Farmers Market. I hadn't been there on a Saturday in a while...dang, it was hopping! I was very impressed. And happy, since I am a proud board member of the market! Good job all around.

I didn't really go with a set plan of what to purchase, I just wanted to see what was available and go from there. This is a skill that takes time to learn, and it's one I don't think is ever really perfected. We all buy food we end up wasting sometimes. Our little family's goal is to eliminate as much food waste as possible. That usually requires shopping with a menu in mind, but that can sometimes be difficult at a farmers market as I have discussed. This is when the art of swapping comes in to play. Don't run to the store and buy every ingredient in every recipe, you'll spend way too much. Swap and save!

The first rule of ingredient swapping is have a go-to list of recipes that you feel very, very comfortable with. Most cooks have this. These are the recipes you make all the time and don't need directions for, recipes where you eyeball ingredients, recipes your family loves and you are known for. And of course, have a general idea of what the heck you already have at home! This is key.

Another good rule is to keep an eye out for variations of your favorite foods while you are out in the world. Does a local restaurant do mac and cheese with a special twist? Did you see a recipe in the paper that made chicken soup with a random ingredient? You don't have to steal these changes if you don't love them, but they are helpful to notice. These remembered unique takes on favorite foods will sometimes bubble up when I am faced with a pile of produce at a market and am desperately trying to fit the pieces together into a meal.

That is basically what happened to me on Saturday. We bought burger meat, and the hubs mentioned homemade French fries as a side. But the only potatoes I saw were teeny new potatoes. They were so delicate, it would be a bit of shame to lose that flavor. I thought. I considered. I looked over at the peas, and ogled the beautiful radishes, both grown by my neighbors at Glade Road Growing. I remembered seeing peas in a potato salad somewhere out in the world, who knows where? I bought the potatoes, peas and radishes and looked up a basic potato salad recipe. I didn't have all the ingredients, but I had the key ones and enough similar ones to pull it all together. This is my recipe, adapted from this one. People, when I tell you it is delicious you must believe me. It is the essence of early summer. Dig in.

New potato salad with peas and radishes
1 pound new potatoes ( I got tinyyyy red ones)
1/2 pound peas in their pods
3 French radishes
1/3 cup mayo, you may want less
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon chives, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes in half and boil them in salted water until you can pierce them with a fork (about 15 minutes) Drain them and set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the tips off of the peas and cut each pod in thirds. Cut the radishes into coins. Place in a bowl.
Add the drained potatoes to the peas/radishes. Drizzle with vinegar.
In a small bowl, mix the mayo, dill, chives, mustard seeds and salt and pepper. Add to the veggies in the big bowl and stir until fully coated with the mayo dressing.
Chill for an hour before serving.

And as always, if you don't have all the ingredients, forge on anyway! I believe in you!

1 comment:

  1. Salad was delicious! Keep it up, this blog flogs the competition!