mostly not potato salad

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I got my car washed yesterday and as I sat there waiting for it to get all spruced up, I was shaken out of my reverie by a loud, "LADY!" I looked up at the sweet, portly guy who had just yelled--he had a big squinty-eyed smile and a gold tooth up front. He shook my keys at me which meant I should approach.

He seemed especially concerned about some particular schmutz marring my paint job that hadn't come off in the standard wash/dry.  I had never seen it before. It was a long, several-inch drip of something rough and grey that wouldn't scratch off with a fingernail. (Apparently this is a much-employed technique of the Car Wash Person and much can be discerned by it.) He motioned me over and pointed to it. "You know what is this?" He said, in broken English. "No," I said.  But he unflinchingly held my gaze, waiting, so I said, "Do you know what it is?" He leaned in conspiratorially. "Habla Español?" He asked. I gave my standard not-really-but-I-had-two-years-in-high-school response which seemed good enough for him because he said, "En Español? Werewolf."

I blinked.

"Es Werewolf," He said again, scratching it with his fingernail and looking to me like I understood the secret Carwasher Fingernail-Scratch Language.

"Um...werewolf?"  I knew I was hearing something that passed for "werewolf" but I couldn't help myself.

"Sí!" He said. "Werewolf!"

"Ok.  Wow. Werewolf. I don't know how I got that. Can you get it off?  Can you remove the werewolf?"

"Sí!" He said, looking excited. Holding up a finger to me, he stepped over to a little bin of potions and sprays, choosing one and dousing a rag with it. He came back and scrubbed it off while looking incredibly pleased with himself.

So.  I guess I had some werewolf on my car but not to worry--it's all taken care of now.

This story has nothing to do with this recipe (do my stories ever?) but it's freaking delicious. I know it's not particularly seasonal but give me a break: in LA it's in the 80s again today. Plus, I've been really stressed with all the mythical creatures messing up my car's paint job.

Mostly Not Potato Salad
adapted from Heidi Swanson
serves 4-6

The traditional french potato salad flavors of mustard, red wine vinegar and dill make this salad super tangy and delicious! Heidi adds tofu to her version, I usually prefer it without. This is fantastic alongside a burger or piece of grilled chicken. There's a bit of multi-tasking involved but it's well worth it.

2 small (or one large) leek(s), white and light green parts only, trimmed and chopped
1 heaping T dried dill
1 1/2 big handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
4 red skinned potatoes (about 2-3" in diameter), unpeeled and chopped into 1" pieces
2T whole grain mustard
2T red wine vinegar
1T evoo
1/2 t agave syrup
sea salt
4-5 stalks celery, diced
2 smallish persian cucumbers, unpeeled and diced

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, sauté the leeks in 1T evoo over medium heat until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Stir often so they don't burn. Halfway through this sauté time, stir in the dill and a good dose of salt and pepper. Set aside.

When the water boils, add the green beans and cook for a mere 30 seconds. Saving the boiling water, remove the green beans and plunge them into an ice bath (to stop the cooking and keep them green). Now add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook about 9-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

While the potatoes cook, make the dressing: whisk the mustard, vinegar, 1T evoo, agave, salt and pepper. Set aside.

To the bowl of potatoes, add the celery, cucumber, drained green beans, crispy leeks and toss gently with the dressing. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve at room temperature.


P.S. I googled schmutz for spelling purposes and found this awesome law firm! I'm gonna call just to hear them answer the phone.


  1. Oh wow, I did not know that mythical creatures could stick to someone’s car! I didn’t even know that werewolves looked like a “long, several-inch drip of something rough and grey!” Good thing Señor Car Washer was able to get the werewolf off your car before it could do more damage to your car’s paint job! Hahaha! Did you ever find out what the “werewolf” actually was though?


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