We are at the perfect stage of summer, although if you’d asked me about that a week ago I would have laughed. Santa Barbara has a bad habit of getting gloomy for pretty much the whole month of June. Just when I’m ready to have summer vacation, or at least pretend that I am about to have summer vacation, the sun gets hidden by a dense, wet, gray, and altogether miserable curtain of clouds that just dares me to enjoy living next to a beach. But a couple days ago it ended, and I haven’t seen a cloud since. The sky is bright blue every day, and somehow I’m left hoping we might have the occasional cloud straggler if only to provide a brief moment of shade, because now it’s just too hot. Perhaps this is just proof that people are incapable of being happy for more than one day at a time, but I dare you not to be happy when you have the chance to go to the farmer’s market two days in a row. The perfect stage of summer is that place where I can buy fresh tomatoes that actually taste good, but before I get tired of zucchini. And we are there! One of my favorite ways to celebrate this brief period is to make a rather alternative potato salad that was first, and best, made by my friend Karina. Since I don’t have a recipe from her, I sort of make the dressing up every time, but the four divine vegetables stay the same. I recommend you do the same, and try everything from a traditional mayonnaise dressing to a simple vinaigrette.
Green Bean-Tomato-Avocado Potato Salad
4-5 medium potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 small basket cherry-sized tomatoes, halved
1-2 large handfuls fresh and tender green beens, halved with ends trimmed
1 ripe avocado, cut into slivers or cubes
Steam or boil potato cubes until tender, but not so long that they won’t hold there shape when mixed in the salad. Mix cooked potato cubes in the salad dressing in a heat-proof bowl while still warm. Steam green beans just until the edge of soft and then add them to the potatoes. Taste for salt and pepper. Mix in the halved cherry tomatoes and top with slices of avocado. Be careful not to cut up the avocado before you’re ready to serve the salad or else it will turn a nasty brown color.
A Salad Dressing for Potato Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
Salt and pepper
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. When the potatoes are cooked, add them to the bowl and toss until coated. Add the sour cream and toss again. Taste for salt and pepper.