Just over 12 years ago, my husband, daughter and I moved into our home. It is affectionately known in our neighborhood as "the pink house" because, you guessed it, it's pink. Their is lore around how the owners came to the decision to paint it pink, but non confirmed thus far.When I say it's pink, I am not talking about an earthy terra cotta, or a pinky hued beige, I am talking bubble gum pink. The pink house is an old kit house assembled in 1928 for the intended use as someone's summer getaway. It is rustic, quirky, and full of character. Some may have entered the home and thought, "Hell no", but my husband and I were smitten right away. There are many reason we fell for this house, but one of the major selling points was the view. It is situated up on a hill about 1 quarter mile to the glorious and beautiful Pacific Ocean. We have no insulation, electrical outlets in the floor, 1 closet in the whole house, but that view, man, you just can't beat it. One of the other reasons we were sold right away was the GIANT back yard. It was pretty much a pile of dirt when we moved in, but we have built a paver patio, and deck, planted raised beds and turned into party central where we have hosted many gathering. Including our annual 4th of July party.
Our funky little community of Ocean Beach raises money every year for a firework show off of the pier. We took one look out at our new view and thought, "I bet we will be able to see the fireworks from our deck", and a tradition was born. We have had many late nights around the fire pit after cooking, cleaning, and then a little more cooking and a little bit more cleaning up, oh and don't forget dessert, and then a last little bit of cleaning up. It is one of my favorite days of the year and I do all of that cooking and cleaning with a song in my heart and a drink in my glass:)
Over the years we have had many different menus, but there are a couple of items that are always on the table. One is my potato green bean salad. I have no idea when I came up with this recipe, but it is definitely one my most requested by friends. No disrespect to a traditional potato salad (I love mayo, so I am a fan), but this olive oil and lemon dressed potato salad is a welcomed, vibrant change to the heavy and lets be honest (often) bland flavors in a typical potato salad. It goes a little something like this:
Step 1: wash and slice fingerling or baby yukon gold potatoes to all be about an inch long. You are going for bite sized, so you can go a little smaller if you would like. Toss the potatoes with a healthy couple of glugs of EVOO, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Slip these beauties into a preheated 450° oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and fork tender. Yes, I said 450. I believe in high heat, but that is another post all together.
Step 2: while the potatoes are roasting rinse and trim your green beans or haricot verts into similar bite size pieces. I love the pre-trimmed and pre-washed haricot vert from Trader Joe's because it saves me a little time (no shade to these kinds of hacks!) Thinly slice a large shallot and mince or crush a couple cloves of garlic. Sauté the shallots and garlic over medium high heat until they start to wilt and become fragrant. It won't take long, maybe 30 sec to a min. Then add the green beans and a big pinch of salt. Keep moving it all around in the pan until the green beans start to get a little char, then squeeze in some lemon juice and a bit of water. Cook until the water has cooked out and the beans are tender. Turn off the heat.
Step 3: While your beans are cooking, chop a healthy amount of tarragon and parsley. These fresh herbs are the thing that really give this salad a fresh and vibrant flavor, so don't skimp. They aren't intended to be a garnish, although they do make it look extra pretty! Also, drain the capers.
Step 4:Toss it all together. Once the potatoes and the green beans are cooked and cooled (they should still be warm, but not hot), toss them all together with the herbs and capers. Add more EVOO and lemon Juice and of course plenty of salt. It's important that everything is still slightly warm when you toss it all together so the herbs release their flavors. And that's it!
You can eat it warm or let it cool. It can be made the day before, and taken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you eat it, so the oil can soften and redistribute. I will typically make this dish mid prep and leave it, covered, on my counter until it's time to eat. I know it seems crazy to have your oven on on the 4th of July, but I promise the caramelized crispy bits of potato add so much flavor that boiled potato salad will never hold a candle. I hope you enjoy it!
I know a lot of people love corn on the cob and pasta salad for 4th of July. I say why not combine the two. I take all the flavors of a traditional Elote Corn and toss it with pasta for my elote corn pasta salad with poblano crema. Living close to Mexico has definitely influenced my cooking and this is one of my favorite fusion dishes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add the pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the pasta is aldente. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, and add it back to the pot with the 2 tbsp of butter. Toss to coat, and set aside.
Heat a grill or grill pan to about 450. Drizzle the corn with olive oil and place the corn on the hot grill. Leave it alone to get good char and then rotate the corn until it’s evenly charred on all sides. Set it aside to cool
While the corn cools, cut the green onion. Trim the top of the onions and peel away any outer layer that is tough or wilting. Slice 4 whole onions, white and green parts, and 3 onions, just greens.
Once the corn has cooled, stand each cob up end to end on a cutting board and, with a
sharp knife, cut the corn off the cob.
Add the corn kernels, green onion, chilli powder, olive oil, lime juice, and crumbled cheese to the pot of room temperature pasta. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together until well combined.
Garnish the salad with the chopped cilantro, a little crumble of extra cheese and a dash of chilli powder on top and serve.
For a more traditional creamy pasta salad dressing, toss the salad with poblano pepper crema. The sweet corn with the smokey peppers and the vibrant lime juice is a great combo.
This is a new take on an old classic and will become a summer favorite. Throw some grilled shrimp or chicken in the salad and make it a meal.
Spin it! If you don't care for cilantro use green onion for garnish. If you like it extra spicy add a roast jalapeño along with the poblanos. Add a drained can of black beans for some vegetarian protein. Make it the way you like, and make it a favorite.
Last but certainly not least, I want to talk, for a minute, about coleslaw. Oh how I love it. I adore cabbage and all it's crunchy sweet goodness, so cabbage in any for is great, but slaw: that's the king of cabbage. My step mom says when she thinks of me cooking she always imagines a lot of chopping. Probably because never was there a family event where I didn't make some kind of slaw (also, my dad loves slaw, so naturally I make it for him often). My southern husband is also a lover of slaw, but he is a bit more of a purist. I love a traditional mayo/vinegar/sugar slaw dressing, but I also love nearly every "fancy" iteration I have tried. The one I seem to come back to the most is my Honey Sesame Coleslaw. It is so simple to make and so delicious. Here's how it goes...
Slice up cabbage, however you like it. I like it long thin strips, but my husband prefers a medium dice. Thinly slice green onions, whites and greens. Grate the carrot.
In a small bowl, mix together honey, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.
Toss it all together and season with salt and pepper.
That's it! It is so simple, so quick, and so tasty.
Here's a couple ways to Spin it! Add herbs, cilantro, mint, basil or all three
Add a little sriracha to the dressing for a kick
Mix green and purple cabbage to make it extra beautiful.
Sub the rice wine vinegar for lime juice
Add sesame seeds
Whatever you make this holiday weekend, enjoy with friends, family, and have fun! Cheers!!