Recently I had the privilege of talking to about 200 people who attended the annual Alameda County Community Food Bank Conference. The attendees were the frontline volunteers and staff who serve 40,000 people each week in our community, fewer than 40 percent of whom have any income. Fourteen thousand of those served are children, and another 7,000 are senior citizens.
The Food Bank no longer provides soda and other junk food, and the proportion of food provided consisting of various kinds of produce has risen from 8 percent to almost 40 percent. Their motto is "Banking on good nutrition--healthy people, healthy communities." Their distribution facility is large and complex. Their leaders are dedicated and inspiring. The experience has certainly started me thinking about additional ways to get good food into the community.
This week's recipe is a version of potato salad very different from the usual mayonnaise-laden fare. It's fragrant, delicious, and can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. I was fortunate to find rose potatoes from Full Belly Farm (this farm, by the way, has contributed food over time to the Food Bank). Any little, red new potatoes can work.
- 2 pounds red new potatoes, boiled and quartered
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cover the potatoes with cold water in a large pot with a cover. Salt the water a little. Leaving the cover on, bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 15 to 20 minutes. (I never used to cover pans of water when waiting for it to boil. My son and I did a test using the same amount of water at the same temperature with the same heat covered and uncovered. The water came to a boil about 8 percent faster in the covered pot.) Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are lightly browned. This takes a while.
Add the shallots, garlic, and sauté for about a minute. Turn off the heat at this point. Drain the potatoes when they are done. Have a cooking partner dry each one with a paper towel and hand them to you one at a time to quarter while they are hot. This step gives meaning to the aphorism. Reheat the onions and garlic. Add the sherry vinegar to this mixture. Mix it up, then toss it with the hot potatoes and parsley in a large bowl. It's important to toss the salad while it is warm, as the potatoes soak up the flavors. Salt and pepper to taste. You may never think the same way about potato salad again.