It can be a blessing to split a CSA share with another household, as I observed in the last post to this blog. In our case, it makes the task of cooking and consuming so much farm-fresh produce a bit less daunting.
But some items, such as potatoes, don’t go far enough when divvied up. After my mother-in-law took her portion of both red potatoes and French fingerlings from Runnymede Farm’s recent deliveries, the remaining spuds wouldn’t make much of a side dish on their own. While I could roast them with other veggies, that treatment didn’t seem appropriate.
Then I spied this salad that could marry the massaged kale concept and just-boiled potatoes. Throw in a few brined olives, and the dish starts to resemble Salade Nicoise, one of my favorite summertime specialties with the garden’s new potatoes and green beans.
I say kale because that’s what came in the farm box, although I prefer collards, which this Washington Post recipe specifies. But CSAs, as I’ve often opined (and now am learning first-hand) often test a cook’s flexibility.
The chickpeas make this salad appropriate for a main dish, albeit a light one in deference to healthier eating habits in the new year.
Collard Green, Potato and Chickpea Salad With Spiced Lemon Dressing
Kosher salt, as needed
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed well
1 bunch collard greens (about 1 pound)
5 pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked or canned, no-salt-added chickpeas
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves, for garnish
Freshly cracked black pepper
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of the kosher salt, then add the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium; cook uncovered just until potatoes can be easily pierced with sharp tip of a knife, for about 15 minutes. Drain and cool.
Cut ribs from the collards by slicing along both sides of stalk from top of leaf to stem end; discard or reserve ribs for another use. Stack halved leaves and cut them into thin ribbons. Rinse in a bowl of cool water, spin dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the chopped olives.
If your collards are not particularly tender, blanch or steam them first, just until tender, then drain them thoroughly before tossing with dressing.
Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cumin and caraway seeds; cook for about 3 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Let cool for 5 minutes, then grind to a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl and add the crushed red pepper flakes (to taste). Spices can be toasted and ground 3 days in advance and held in an airtight container at room temperature.
Use same mortar and pestle to reduce the garlic to a paste. Add the lemon juice and the 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt; mix until salt has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl; slowly whisk in the oil to form an emulsified dressing.
Once potatoes are cool, cut them into bite-size chunks. Add to bowl, along with the drained chickpeas. Cooked potatoes and chickpeas can be dressed and refrigerated 2 days in advance; bring to room temperature before serving.
Add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of dressing to bowl of collards and olives; use your hands to toss gently until well incorporated. Pour remaining dressing over potatoes and chickpeas, along with remaining 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Use a spatula to fold it in until well-coated.
To serve, scatter potatoes and chickpeas over bottom of each plate. Mound collard-olive mixture on top, and garnish with cilantro leaves. Season lightly with the black pepper. Serve right away.
Makes 2 to 4 servings (4 appetizer or side-dish servings or 2 main-course servings).