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Haricot Vert & New Potato Salad

This composed potato salad is a fresh and lively side dish at a summer barbecue, a wonderful, Mother Earth-bound salad, with plenty of green, and flavored with sweet, salty, spicy, rosemary-scented almonds and sun-dried tomatoes.

The potato, a distinctly New World food with wild varieties growing naturally from the

Andes to the Yukon, can go in different directions. Recently, multicolored Peruvian baby potatoes have become widely available. Bite-sized, they are sometimes known as cocktail potatoes. They not only add visual appeal, they have a sweet taste and their pulp is quite firm. If you cannot find them, go all the way north and use Yukon Gold, cut into matchsticks.

All the components can be made in advance, even the day before, and assembled at the last minute.

Haricot verts are French string beans, longer, thinner and crisper than their American cousins.

Serves 8-10 as a side dish.

for the salad:

1 pound haricots verts (French beans), ends removed, cut in half

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

2 pounds multicolored Peruvian baby Yukon Gold potatoes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

20 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

12 scallions, trimmed

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

for the almonds:

1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ teaspoon very finely chopped fresh rosemary

½ clove garlic, finely minced

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon onion or celery salt

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons lemon and oil dressing

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil and cook the beans until crisp/tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon or skimmer into an ice bath. When they are cool, drain, and set aside.

Cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths, leaving the tips intact. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Blanch for a minute or so and remove into the ice bath.

If using cocktail potatoes, wash them, cut them in half and boil them whole for about 6 minutes, or until they are cooked through. If using Yukon Gold, peel the potatoes and cut them into julienne pieces, matchsticks to match the green beans. Place them into the boiling water and cook them until they are tender, about 4 minutes. In either case, set the potatoes to drain in a separate colander. When they cool, toss with some Dijon mustard and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 325 F°

Spread the almonds on a ridged baking sheet and put them in the oven until they are slightly browned, about 10 - 12 minutes. Shake the pan often to brown evenly.

While the nuts are roasting, combine 2 teaspoons of olive oil with the rosemary, garlic, cayenne, sugar and seasoned salt in a mixing bowl. When the nuts are hot from the oven, toss them with this mixture, distributing it evenly and thoroughly.

When ready to assemble the salad, mix the beans, asparagus and potatoes in a large bowl. Trim the scallions, cut them lengthwise down the middle and cut each half into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the beans and potatoes. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into thin matchsticks and mix them in. Add some black pepper and toss well.

Combine the mayonnaise with the tomato paste and the lemon and oil dressing.

Toss the bean and potato mixture with half the dressing, gently mixing, adding more a little at a time, until all the ingredients are evenly coated.

Top with the toasted almonds and serve.

Brought to you by Harper Collins, SIGNS & SEASONS is a creative and cosmic cookbook, a collaboration between bestselling author Monte Farber, award-winning artist Amy Zerner and their good friend, talented chef John Okas. For more information go here.

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