Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Pats! Tapping into a Different Cuisine for Potatoes - Smoky Potato and Artichoke Salad

When I was growing up, my Grandmother called small, new, red potatoes, “Irish Potatoes”. I learned about the great potato famine in Ireland in elementary school. I loved Irish stew, a meaty bowl filled with carrots and potatoes. Like me, I bet you think of Ireland when I say “potato”. I didn’t learn that the Inca Indians in Peru discovered the world’s fourth largest food crop until recently when I was researching foods to pair with the appealing wines of South America. Now, I know that the Spanish conquistadors brought them back to Europe in the mid 1500s and they arrived in North America by the early 1600s. As over 1000 different varieties are grown today, we can celebrate the spirit of St Patrick's Day with recipes from all over the world. This colorful, bright salad is a tantalizing mix of some of my favorite flavors and foods; red peppers, smoked paprika and artichokes.

Did you know that artichokes are actually the “heart” of a thistle? These delicious veggies are cultivated in the countries around the Mediterranean, but most of our U.S. artichokes come from California. Castroville California calls itself the “Artichoke Center of the World” If you have ever visited this fun city, you would agree! I love whole artichokes, but now that we can easily found frozen artichoke hearts is awesome. Try tossing them into salads or casseroles for flavor, and a serving of potent antioxidants.

This salad is fast, easy and tasty. The Smoked Paprika Dressing is not only the perfect way to celebrate the wonderful flavors of the veggies, but on its own is a wonderful way to marinate a portabella mushroom to grill.

Smoky Potato and Artichoke Salad
1 ½  LBS Cooked Red Potatoes in 1” Pieces
1 ½ LBs Cooked Sweet Potatoes in 1” Pieces (Yes, I know that sweet potatoes are not in the exact family as potatoes – but that’s another blog in itself.)
3 Cups Cooked, Frozen Artichoke Hearts
1 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, Cut in Strips
1 Recipe Smoked Paprika Dressing*
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro for Garnish

Toss the potatoes, artichokes and red peppers together in a large bowl. Drizzle with the smoked paprika dressing and garnish with chopped cilantro.

*Smoked Paprika Dressing
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Cup Light Olive Oil Mayonnaise
2 TB Dijon Mustard
2 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
2 TB Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TB Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Turmeric
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

Place all ingredients in the food processor and puree.

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