Fingerling potato salad with chard and bacon

June 23, 2011 § 21 Comments

Duluth, Minnesota, my hometown, and where I was last week, is a very cool city.  (Both figuratively and literally – given that even in mid-June the high temperature during the middle of the day most days last week was 52F and in the winter it can easily be 40 below.  You can actually get t-shirts that say, “Duluth is a cool town.”  I can’t decide whether they’re dorky or cute.)

It’s small but it has some splashy things going on in the art and music world.  There’s tons of untamed outdoor space – you can barely walk without stumbling into the woods (I think that’s a good thing).  People there seem to be on the forefront of the barefoot running movement.  The town is participating in the ‘One book, One community” campaign, a movement (started by the Chicago Public Library system if I remember correctly) that aims to bring communities together in dialogue by sharing the experience of reading the same book.

And, now Duluth has also started participating in “One vegetable: one community,” trying to get everyone to eat more kale this year.

I think this is hilarious.  And distinctly awesome.

My mother is taking it quite seriously.  She tells me she started cooking kale because of this blog, but it definitely seems that the community campaign is adding fuel to her leafy greens fire, prompting her to try it in even more ways.

It has also led her to try chard, and discover she likes it better than kale because it has a milder flavor.  I disagree.  I think kale is better.  I like its hardy chewiness.  (And, I’ve had several uncomfortable encounters with gritty chard, though I do still like it a lot.)  The manager of the produce department in Duluth’s little local whole food co-op also prefers kale.  But, his wife would side with my mom, and back chard.

This was a point of discussion in the aisles of the grocery store when we were trying to decide what to make for supper (don’t worry, it all remained very congenial).  We were going to do something with kale, and I daydreamed up a melange of fingerling potatoes, sauteed kale, and bacon, with a tangy mustardy dressing.  But, then my mom made a face and asked, “can’t we use chard instead this time?  I like it better.”

I decided to let her have her way.  And it was delicious.  I can also guarantee that it would be delicious with kale.  After all, you sautee the greens in some of the bacon grease, coating them with rich smokey, salty flavor.  You can’t go wrong.

Adding the vinegar in two doses, both directly to the potatoes and to the dressing ensures that your salad is perfectly tangy and the potatoes are flavorful instead of drab.  And the yogurt keeps the dressing light, even while giving it a creaminess to temper the mustard’s kick.

We served the potato salad (though I’m loathe to even call it that because I don’t really like potato salad, but I love this) alongside roasted salmon and caramelized leeks.  It was perfect for a cool summer night (actually, I’m not sure we could say that it was quite summer yet, but whatever).  And it made us all want to eat more kale, or chard, whichever you prefer.

Fingerling potato salad with chard and bacon (serves 4-6)

  • 1 lb. fingerling or other small potatoes (red or yellow), scrubbed but not peeled
  • 6 slices of bacon (look for center-cut and nitrate free)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss Chard, washed
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar, divided
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. plain, Greek-style yogurt (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 Tbs. German style mustard (or really any style mustard, but I like the grainy German style)
  • 1 Tbs. real maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and fill it with just enough water to cover all of the potatoes.  Cover, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced by a knife (20ish minutes).
  2. Drain the potatoes, then cut the potatoes (still warm) into quarters (you can do this by putting them onto a plate and cutting them there, holding them steady as you cut with a spoon or a fork).  Put them into a large bowl and sprinkle them with 2 Tbs. of the vinegar.
  3. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon over medium heat until it is crispy.  Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel or brown paper bag.
  4. While the bacon is frying, cut the bottom portions of the stems off of the Swiss chard.  Chop the chard into 3 strips, lengthwise, then across into about 2 inch strips.  (This should give you pieces of chard that are around 2X2 inches.)
  5. Pour off all but about 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat from the pan.  Then, add the Swiss chard to the frying pan, and cook over medium high heat until it is totally wilted, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the cooked chard to the potatoes.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining red wine vinegar, the olive oil, yogurt, mustard, and maple syrup, taste and add salt and pepper to taste (don’t forget that the bacon in the salad will add some saltiness).  Toss the dressing with the potatoes and chard.
  7. Finally, chop the bacon into small pieces, and toss this into the potato salad.  Serve warm
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