Summers back, friends hosted a backyard potluck, convening spirited folk from the different corners of their lives. The midsummer night was steamy, the kids rambunctious, the trees a rainbow of colored light, the Jimmy Buffet dulcet.
Food-wise, the talk of the party was the ‘pink potatoes’, a delicious make-ahead dish perfect for family dinners and friendly potlucks since it’s good both hot and barely warm. The beets and potatoes remain distinct but also melt together somehow in a tantalizing way.
THAT PINK SALAD My Canadian relatives make a family-dinner favorite routinely requested as, “You know, that ‘pink’ salad”. For my version, just toss romaine lettuce with toasted sunflower seeds, drained mandarin oranges and chopped red onion. Just before serving, barely wet the greens with a dressing whizzed in the blender: ¼ cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons reserved mandarin orange syrup, some red onion, ½ teaspoon dry mustard, a teaspoon of salt – plus the source of the blush, four maraschino cherries.
THOSE PINK POTATOES
Time to table: about 2 hours
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- Butter for greasing
- 3 ounces fresh Parmesan, grated
- 1½ cups half & half (not fat-free, which won’t set) or heavy cream
- 1 pound red-skinned or Yukon gold potatoes, no need to peel
- 1 pound small or medium fresh beets, trimmed and peeled
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- Fresh thyme, optional but nice
Preheat oven to 350F. Rub a shallow quiche pan or 9x9 glass baking dish with garlic, then butter. Measure cream, grate the cheese.
With a vegetable slicer (see ALANNA’s TIPS) or very sharp knife, slice potatoes and beets very thin. Build five layers, three potato layers on the bottom, top and middle with layers of beet between. Season each of the first four layers with salt and pepper; top with a handful of cheese and a splash of cream. Add the fifth layer, season, distribute remaining cheese on top, then carefully pour remaining cream over top, jiggling a bit to help it filter through.
Bake for 60 minutes, pressing to submerge the layers into the liquid after 20 and 40 minutes. Remove from oven. If slicing, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes; if scooping, serve immediately.
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