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Potato and (yellow) cherry tomato salad

How a bumper crop of apartment garden tomatoes survived the squirrels this year.

By Blue Kitchen / September 18, 2012

Fingerling potatoes and cherry tomatoes tossed with a lively mustard vinaigrette.

Blue Kitchen

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Today's post is written by Terry Boyd's wife, Marion.

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Blue Kitchen

Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.

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Summer is drawing to a close – we have a real blanket on the bed, we are wearing sweaters in the evening, and we are casting around for ways to use the bits and bobs that we harvest here from our apartment garden. The nation’s corn crop may have suffered this year, but our tomato crop is record-breaking. Outside, we have just a tiny scrap of ground under cultivation, but it is giving us a quart of cherry tomatoes every day, on bad days – and that is to ignore the big tomatoes, which are coming in with a vengeance.

And friends, I have also figured out how to beat the local squirrels. It’s been years of frustration, featuring comical shots of me, in various inappropriate garments, yelling even more inappropriate things at squirrels as they frisk up ahead with fat ripe red tomatoes in their clever jaws. But, because every year I rotate a different tomato variety into the mix, I stumbled on an answer: yellow. In our neighborhood, the squirrels do not recognize yellow tomatoes as food. Red tomatoes, yes. Peppers, berries, French fries, apples, yes. But yellow tomatoes, for no reason I understand, are safe. This year I planted only yellow varieties, and now we have a bumper crop, small and large, pear-shaped and round, all of them luscious, well-balanced explosions of acid and sweet, and not one meddling squirrel has touched them. Not. One.

Victory.

We thought of this recipe on the fly as part of a recent weekend barbecue. We’ve got tomatoes! We’ve got potatoes! We’ve got 30 minutes! It’s one of those dishes that is so simple, it is almost not a recipe, but a description.

Potato and Cherry Tomato Salad
  Serves 4 to 6

30 fingerling potatoes, mixed red and white
A pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Chives

For the vinaigrette:
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

Wash the little tomatoes and cut them in half. Our version uses Sun Gold tomatoes, our favorite, but use the ones you like best. A mix of little heirlooms, red, yellow, purple, would be very handsome.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set it aside.

Choose fingerling potatoes that are all about the same size, nice unbruised ones without eyes. Don’t peel them. Put them in a pan, cover generously with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for five to seven minutes, depending on the size, until they are just tender.

When they are cooked, drain them and plunge into cold water for a minute so you can handle them. Cut each in half lengthwise and place in a medium bowl.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes – use just enough to coat the potatoes, not so much that it pools in the bottom of the bowl. Save any extra dressing for another salad.

Set aside a few tomato halves for garnish. Carefully pour the rest into the potato salad bowl, and very gently fold everything together.

Garnish with the remaining tomatoes, snip some chives over the salad and serve. That’s it.

This is also really wonderful the next day, cold from the fridge.

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