Asparagus, Cranberry Beans and Yukon Gold Potato Salad

Time to cycle back to the farmers' market season!  With the warmer weather and longer days comes my reason to want to write,  shop at the markets, cook and create new meals.  Starting off my first post of my new year, my cooking thoughts turn to what's new in the market.  This means asparagus here in New Jersey and I cannot get enough of it during its fleeting local season.  As per the usual recipes I make, this one is adaptable to what you have on hand and it works well hot, warm, or cold.  It's a real throw together affair.  While the use of potatoes and beans are a tad starchy, the fresh herbs, bright acidity of the vinaigrette and the fresh green stalks will help bring this in balance.

Asparagus, potatoes and fresh herbs should and will be available at the local farmers' markets.  I had cranberry beans from last season in the freezer so I cooked and used those.  Fresh spring peas, snap peas or string beans would work too.

A quick vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and lemon vinegars, along with some dry mustard powder, salt, pepper and a good olive oil were whisked together quickly before I added in the chopped herbs - fresh chives, tarragon and thyme.  The potatoes were boiled whole for 10 minutes, then tested to see if they were knife tender, then I added in the diced asparagus stems and cooked them for 3-4 minutes.  Before I drained the potatoes, I added in asparagus tips and drained everything.

So that I was sure the potatoes would soak up the vinaigrette, I carefully sliced them in half, put the hot potato halves onto a sheet tray and poured 3/4 of the dressing over the potatoes.  I put the cooked asparagus pieces into a bowl along with the cooked cranberry beans and poured over the rest of the dressing.  Once the potatoes cooled slightly, about 10 minutes, I added the potatoes to the bowl and scrapped the rest of the dressing on the sheet tray into the bowl, folded everything together and adjusted my seasonings once more.  I could have eaten the entire bowl in one sitting!  This would have been a nice dinner with a rotisserie chicken or grilled turkey cutlets.

Asparagus Cranberry Beans and Yukon Gold Potato Salad Ingredients:

  • 12-15 Small Sized Yukon Gold Potatoes - scrubbed clean
  • 1 Pound Thick Spears Asparagus - woody ends trimmed; tips cut off and reserved; spears cut into 1/4 Inch pieces
  • 1 Cup Cranberry Beans - cooked tender
  • 1 Teaspoon Dry Mustard Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar or Sherry Vinegar or Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives - chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon Leaves - chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves - picked off stems
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  1. Put the Yukon Gold potatoes into a sauce pot and fill with water.  Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt.  Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the cranberry beans in another pot (or whatever kind of beans you are using) until they are crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Make the vinaigrette - add the dry mustard powder, a pinch of salt, 2-3 grinds of fresh black pepper and 1/4 cup of vinegar into a glass measuring cup.  Whisk together and then add the olive oil in a steady stream while vigorously whisking the mixture.  Taste the mixture to see if you need more salt, pepper, oil or vinegar.  Mix in the chopped herbs and set aside.
  4. Wash and clean the asparagus, discarding the woody stem ends - the asparagus stems will break at the point where the tough ends are.  Cut the asparagus tips off and set those aside.  Cut the tender stems into 1/4 inch pieces.  
  5. When the potatoes are knife tender, add in the diced asparagus stems and bring the water back to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp, tender and bright green.  Before draining the potatoes and asparagus, add in the reserved asparagus tips, then drain everything into a colander.  
  6. Carefully take the potatoes out of the colander and slice them in half and place onto a sheet tray.  Put the asparagus and cranberry beans into a large mixing bowl.  Pour half to 3/4 of the dressing over the warm potatoes; pour the remaining dressing over the asparagus/bean mixture.  Let the potatoes absorb the dressing and allow to cool slightly - up to 10 minutes, before folding the potatoes into the mixing bowl.  Scrap any remaining dressing on the sheet tray onto the potato/asparagus mixture.  
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Server hot, warm or cold.  Makes 4 servings.  Will keep up to 3 days refrigerated. 


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