Monday, April 6, 2009

Purple Potato Salad with Sunchokes, Eggs, and Creole Cream

This dish is one of those immensely satisfying uses of interesting ingredients from my local farms and artisan food vendors, on a beautiful day simply dripping with promises of Summer. The weather this weekend was so mind-numbingly perfect - light breeze, low seventies, clear skies - that I'm almost positive nobody in the city accomplished anything more than a park stroll and a picnic. Which is, incidentally, exactly what I think a weekend should be.

In a comical contrast to last weekend's rainy, freezing market Saturday, this week's market was one of the best attended in my memory. This is the first year the Portland Farmers Market has ceased allowing pet access in the market, and it was clear to see why - there was hardly enough room for the shoppers! Every farmer I talked to was all smiles, joking about how the ups and downs of the weather effect the market as much as the farm.

This weekend we were all like new crops, reaching our leaves up to the sunny warmth, and getting our nourishment from the water, soil, and sun of Oregon. And nowhere was it more evident than the PSU market.

I picked up some of my favorite market finds - purple Peruvian potatoes! - from Prairie Creek Farms' booth. These little jewels are a relatively recent cross between the All Blue and Russian Blue varieties, and feature a striking blue-purple center with white rings. Inspired, headed off to find another basket of sunchokes. I had a salad in mind, and nothing was going to get in my way.

Well, that is, until I was distracted by the return of Pam Kraemer and the Dulcet Cuisine table! If you haven't heard of Dulcet's ketchups, sauces, spice rubs, and mustards, I'm sorry. If you have, you'll know that they have on of the friendliest, taster-friendly booths at the market, and sophisticated, locally-crafted condiments. I picked up some Creole Mustard and set off the finish tracking down the ingredients for my feels-like-summer Purple Potato Salad!

I peeled and chopped up 2 pounds of the purple potatoes, 1 pound of sunchokes (which I didn't peel), and simmered the tubers in a big pot for 15 minutes. I drained the roots and let them cool to room temp in a big bowl. I hard-boiled three eggs, chopped them up, and diced half a purple onion. Throwing everything into the bowl and lightly tossing, all I had to do was whip up a dressing. In a small bowl, I mixed a half cup of plain yogurt, two tablespoons mayonnaise, a tablespoon of the Creole mustard, two tablspoons of cider vinegar, salt, and pepper, and drizzled this over the potato/sunchoke mix. Yum.

Wouldn't this be perfect for a Passover or Easter lunch? Such pretty colors - just calling out to be eaten while sitting on a blanket in the middle of a park, getting absolutely nothing accomplished. And not regretting it one bit.

The rain will be back, the cool will have a bit more fun with us before this kind of weather is the norm, and I won't be able to sit here with a hint of a sunburn, avoiding my classwork for much longer. But we can soak it up while we can, and taste the flavors of summer, even in April. Eat well, friends. Enjoy the sun.


  1. I too can't wait until the warm weather makes a regular appearance, and the farmers markets come into full swing. That salad looks wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh dear, you got my tummy rumbling, yet again. I love living vicariously through you. This potato salad looks divine! I just dug a whole bunch of sunchokes from my garden this sunny weekend and will give this a shot. (I'm still sore from a frenzied weekend of gardening!)

  3. I have never made sunchokes before but have been wanting to try them. Thanks.