When I was growing up the word ‘potato’ came across as a call to action; fry, chip or mash – we must do something! New potatoes aren’t, and never will be, in vogue with five year olds, but as we get older, a little wiser and a great deal fatter, their brilliance reveals itself. When boiled until just the right moment the new potato, whatever the variety chosen, possesses a pleasantly substantial texture and subtle, somewhat nutty flavour that lends itself perfectly and inimitably to the creation of “salads”.
Of the varieties I have consumed, the Jersey Royal is by far my favourite new potato. With the same Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) as champagne or Cornish pasties, the Jersey Royal is grown only on Jersey, a British territory off the north cost of France. They have been cultivated on the island for over 130 years using seaweed (Vraic) harvested from the beaches of Jersey as a natural fertiliser. Happily, peak Jersey Royal season – May – will soon be upon us, so you can expect one or two more new potato treats in the coming weeks.
Truly fantastic produce is always best served alongside ingredients that share some of its characteristics or origins. New potatoes and samphire may not, on the surface, seem like they are cut from the same cloth, but when you consider the Jersey Royal you can see that they both in some way benefit from the sea. Marsh samphire, or glasswort, is a wonderful, salty ingredient which grows in many places, primarily along the coasts of Europe. If you live in a coastal location you’re likely not too far from a bush or two of samphire, which makes it easily forageable (and therefore frugal). In truth, the characteristics of samphire may be rather different from those of new potatoes, but they marry together very well indeed, with the former adding a touch of salty freshness to the earthiness of the latter.
It’s likely that many of you will struggle to get your gastronomic digits on Jersey Royals. Of course, this doesn’t really matter as any new potato will work well. Simply choose your favourite and away you go – it’s difficult to go wrong with this wonderful potato salad. There is, of course, no mayonnaise in sight.
If you’re after another early-spring recipe, why not check out my Radish, Watercress and Potato Salad?
Samphire and New Potato Salad
• 400g new potatoes, halved
• Two handfuls of samphire
• 1 rasher of smoked bacon, finely sliced (optional)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 3 tbsp olive oil
1. Pop your halved potatoes in a small pan, top up with water and boil with the lid on until tender, but not falling apart. Once cooked through, run briefly under a col tap and set aside.
2. Crisp your bacon up in a pan with a drizzle of very hot oil, tip out onto kitchen paper. Mix together the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Transfer everything to a salad bowl, add the samphire and mix thoroughly before serving.
Cost: Though a little more expensive than regular spuds, new potatoes and a relatively cheap vegetable at around £1 per kilo. Samphire is also fairly inexpensive, particularly if foraged. As such, this wonderful “salad” should set you back no more than £1.50.