Summer is potato salad season, and if you're like me, the only problem with that is a little thing called self-control. Potato salad is like egg salad, guacamole, hummus, french fries: Once I start, I can't stop. I wasn't really looking for a solution to that, but I found one anyway, in Joshua McFadden's beautiful new book, "Six Seasons" (Artisan, 2017).
The book's premise, by the way, is that seasonal cooking is more nuanced than just the big four: He divides summer into three sub-seasons, which makes so much sense to us farmers market shoppers. What's available in late June is certainly not the same as what's shiny and new in early September, with lots of ebbs and flows in between. Back to that potato salad idea. McFadden's take is to sub in roasted cauliflower for half of the potatoes, which makes the whole affair lighter and less starchy. Even better, he triples down on the tart elements that are a big part of what keeps me eating the stuff. There are olives, pickled peppers and, best of all, feta that you whip smooth with a little olive oil and fold in instead of mayo. I had every bit as much trouble keeping myself from devouring it as I do a more traditional potato salad, but I didn't feel nearly as guilty.
POTATO AND ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD
SERVINGS: 4 to 6
MAKE AHEAD: The salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; reserve the arugula and add at the last minute.
Adapted from "Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables," by Joshua McFadden (Artisan, 2017).
• 1 pound new (small) potatoes, rinsed and lightly scrubbed, as needed
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
• 1 pound cauliflower, cut or broken into small florets (no bigger than 1 1/2 inches)
• 1/2 cup chopped pitted olives (preferably a mix of black and green)
• 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (from one-quarter of a small onion)
• 1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini or other pickled peppers (about 4)
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 3 ounces feta cheese
• 1/2 cup lightly packed arugula leaves, chopped (see headnote)
• Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat until it's gently bubbling (medium-low), and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and return them to the pot.
Use a fork to crush and smash the potatoes, creating lots of crevices. Add the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper, and toss gently. Let cool.
While the potatoes are cooking, toss the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet with another 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Roast (middle rack) until tender and browned around the edges, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the just-roasted cauliflower to the smashed potatoes. Add the olives, red onion, pickled peppers, thyme and crushed red pepper flakes, and toss gently to incorporate.
Crumble the feta into the bowl of a mini food processor or blender; pulse until creamy. With the motor running, drizzle in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil until well incorporated.
Add the whipped feta to the salad and fold gently. Add the arugula and fold again (unless you plan to serve the salad later; see headnote). Taste, and add more salt, pepper and lemon juice, as needed.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with lemon wedges on the side.
Nutrition | Per serving (based on 6): 240 calories, 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 640 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar