Roasted Potato Salad With Sea Beans and Bacon

One of my favorite things to do is to open people’s eyes to lesser known foods, particularly ingredients that they never would have touched otherwise.  I didn’t grow up an adventurous eater.  Tuna noodle casserole and sloppy joes were the norm in my diet.  Trying lemon meringue pie was the equivalent of tight-rope walking across Niagra Falls.  In fact, “picky eater” in the dictionary featured my picture til I was 18.

But now, I love roasted brussel sprouts dusted with sea salts as much as french fries.  So what changed things around?   When I met my now-husband, I couldn’t cook so much an eggo waffle, but that was all about to change.  One day, I plopped in front of the TV and stumbled across the Food Network.  As I watched the episode (I wish so badly I could remember which one it was!) I realized it didn’t seem that hard afterall.  So little by little, I began to branch out and try new things.

What I loved most was that I had control over ingredients like onions which I normally would have picked out of my dinner tirelessly.  But when I was in control of the meal, I started to scatter those ingredients in slowly and surely until I found out that if you caramelize onions, they take on a deliciously sweet flavor.  Or if you roast brussel sprouts, they take on a crispy, nutty persona.  With me in the drivers seat of the next meal, I began to thrive on the idea of doing the same thing for other people: transforming the frog into the prince.

Sea beans are a vegetable that most people have never heard of before.  A final challenge on Top Chef was my first introduction to these branchy, coat-rack like plants but I never realized that they grew right in my backyard.  Sherlock Holmes-esque foragers scour Pacific Northwest beaches for croppings of these veggies.  When I saw them at my local farmers market, I tried to get the vendor to leak the location where he snips his sea beans but his lips were sealed.

Nonetheless, I snatched them up to give them a try myself.  They add a nice, crunch and salty bite to this roasted potato salad.  Green beans make a perfect stand-in if you can’t find them yourself.  I realize this potato salad is a little time consuming, and dirties up it’s fair share of pots and pans…but it’s worth it!  Plus it tastes even better the next day, always a bonus. : )  Give it a try at your next bbq and you won’t be disappointed.  This recipe is more or less a rough guideline so don’t bother measuring everything exactly.

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