This salad is perfect. It’s so simple to make and yet it’s capable of delivering a zing-fresh, punchy hit that is hard to resist, especially on a hot summer day served alongside a plate of light, creamy cheese, a freshly baked baguette smothered with tapenade and a glass of chilled rosé or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It’s the sort of thing I pull together on long, hot days in France when no-one was up for much until the sun started to go down and it was time an aperitif or a game of Pétanque on the dusty path that separated the vineyard from the garden. If that sounds a bit fanciful, I can offer you no apology because that’s how summer holidays were for me back in the day when the children were little and we filled houses with friends and kids, visited markets in the morning, popped into the local co-operative for wine and then chilled for the rest of the day. Laughing, reading, playing frisbee and climbing trees, prepping dinners, listening to music, dancing and, more often than not, singing. Loudly, for we were happy and free. Anyway, back to the salad; at its heart are buttery white haricot beans – the ones popularised by a certain Mr Heinz, an early pioneer in the mass production of natural, organic foods for time-pressed housewives – softly boiled new potatoes, juicy ripe tomatoes and a kick ass dressing.
400g new potatoes, skin on
400g very ripe plum tomatoes
2 400g tins of haricot beans (you an also use cannellini beans)
A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
French chives, finely chopped, for garnishing
Aleppo pepper or dried chilli flakes, for garnishing
For the dressing:
1 red chilli, finely chopped
4tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
How I make it
Combine the dressing ingredients, mix together and set aside to infuse.
Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, partially cover with a lid and simmer until they are soft and yielding (around 20 minutes). Drain into a colander and leave aside to steam dry. Cut into quarters when cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to steep for 30 seconds and drain. Remove the skin. Cut each tomato into quarters and remove the core and pips before cutting each quarter in half again. Place in a large bowl and gently mix with the cooked potatoes, beans and spring onions.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and gently mix in the flat leaf parsley.
Turn everything out onto a pretty plate and garnish with the chives and Aleppo pepper (or dried chilli flakes).