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The Food Processor

Chefs Are Facing Up to the Potato Salad Challenge

August 25, 1988|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a Chicago-based food writer

Salads are standard summer fare to accompany barbecued chicken, fish or meat, and each year it is a challenge to find new combinations that are fresh, and still easy to make. Potato salad is especially appealing because it can take on so many flavors.

This year, one of my new potato salads is based on a dish of pasta. The second is a variation on the theme of roasted potatoes, with minimal dressing. Each is made with small, new potatoes and the food processor assists by chopping and slicing other vegetables. Using the microwave oven to cook potatoes also saves time.

Slicing green peppers in the processor can be confusing. Small, thin strips, about 1-inch long, are useful for salads. To prepare a bell pepper for slicing, cut off each end, then remove the inner core and seeds.

Standing the pepper on one end, slice it lengthwise into long strips, each about 1-inch wide--roughly equivalent to cutting the pepper into eighths. Pepper strips are inserted upright in the food chute, and slicing them across the grain creates the strips.

ROSEMARY-ROASTED POTATO SALAD

1/4 cup firmly packed parsley leaves

3 medium shallots

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Salt, pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil

3 pounds small new potatoes, rinsed and well-scrubbed

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

Insert metal blade in dry food processor container. Process parsley until minced. Set aside. With motor running, add shallots to machine and process until minced. Add rosemary, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Pulse to mix.

Empty contents of container into 13x10-inch jelly roll pan. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Quarter and pat potatoes dry. Add to roasting pan and turn to coat with oil mixture. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, turning potatoes twice, until browned and soft when pierced with knife.

Cool potatoes to room temperature. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over potatoes, sprinkle with parsley and toss to thoroughly mix. Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

POTATO SALAD PUTTANESCA

2 1/2 pounds very small new potatoes

1/4 cup lightly packed parsley leaves

3 medium cloves garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup olive oil

1 pound Italian plum tomatoes, peeled

1 small green pepper, cored

5 anchovies, rinsed and patted dry

3 tablespoons drained capers

Salt, pepper

1/4 cup Nicoise olives, drained

Boil potatoes in 3 quarts water until tender, about 20 minutes. Cool, peel, quarter and set potatoes aside. (Or place potatoes in microwaveable 3-quart casserole with 1/3 cup water. Cover and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Cool, peel, quarter and set potatoes aside).

Insert metal blade in dry food processor. Process parsley until minced. Set aside. With motor running, add garlic and process until minced. Transfer garlic to medium skillet, add 3 tablespoons oil and oregano and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Coarsely chop tomatoes with 1/2-second pulses, add to skillet and simmer until most of liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Set tomato sauce aside in large mixing bowl.

Change to medium (4 mm) slicing disc. Cut pepper lengthwise into eighths and insert pieces upright in food chute. Slice with gentle push. Empty container into bowl.

Mash anchovies in small bowl and stir in remaining oil, then add mixture to tomato sauce. Add potatoes, capers and parsley. Mix thoroughly and adjust seasoning to taste with about 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Let salad stand 30 minutes, stir in olives and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

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