Nothing says summer like potato salad...There are many variations on this popular side dish, but Lazarus Lynch's approach is bright and fresh. Lynch has made a name for himself with southern soul food and style, and he's also a two-time winner of the cooking show Chopped. We met Lynch a couple months ago in New York and the man is a delight. So is his first cookbook, Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul, which made our top 10 for the best in cooking and food writing of 2019 so far.
We asked Lynch to choose a summer recipe from the book for us to share with Amazon Book Review readers, and he also wrote a wonderful letter to go along with it. If you've got a picnic or potluck coming up this summer, here's a great answer to "what should I bring?"
The reason I fell in love with cooking was because of many, many home cooks. Home cooks defined my Sunday mornings waking up before church to a plate of hot cheese grits and pork sausage. Home cooks fried me okra, braised collard greens and chitterlings in vinegar and hot sauce when I was a child. Home cooks defined, better than any chef I’ve ever met, how to be resourceful, intuitive, curious, and experimental in the kitchen. Well, then again, my best cooking lessons came from a man who was humbly self-taught, and cooked with so much love that it was impossible for him to screw up any recipe whether old or new. That man was my father -- the southern chef.
I say in the intro of my cookbook, Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul, that “My father never strived to be perfect in the kitchen, only to make good food, and that’s my goal for every reader of this book.” Perfectionism is the cancer to creativity. Perfectionism is rooted in judgment, shame, and guilt, and none of that negative energy belongs in any kitchen anywhere ever. On the other hand, creativity is bound in curiosity, and favors an environment of trust in order to survive. Now, I can understand and fully support readers who want to master my recipes and (for the lack of a better word) nail it. The difference here for me though is when a reader’s sole focus is on the destination of a perfectly completed dish that they completely miss the entire experience; this deeply saddens me.
The recipes in Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul embody the essence of approachable, user-friendly recipes that are my riffs on classics. Just because I riffed on them already doesn’t mean you can’t riff on them now. I want you to tap into your own creativity. Take some risks and allow your imagination to take over. My best advice is to return to the joy. I simply want you to care more about making something delicious and having a good time than perfecting a recipe. I hope that through this book you would find ways to celebrate who you are with the ones you love and love you too.
With love and lots of gravy,
ASPARAGUS GOT A CRUSH ON POTATO
Prep Time 10 minutes?
Total Time 30 minutes
Any salad with the word “potato” in it, sign me up! If I were Asparagus, I would have a big crush on Potato. I fell in love with fingerling potatoes in high school. They’re naturally buttery, and are great for roasting, grilling, or boiling. This is one of two potato salads in the book. Just an excuse for us all to eat more potatoes.
8 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces tricolor fingerling potatoes, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
? cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On the first prepared baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and spread the spears out into an even layer. On the second prepared baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Place both baking sheets in the oven. Roast the asparagus until tender, about 10 minutes, and the potatoes until tender and lightly golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the vinegar, mustard, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk until thick and smooth. Pour over the asparagus and potatoes and toss with the parsley. Serve right away.
The ends of the asparagus are mostly tough and fibrous. To trim, hold the middle and the bottom of the stalk and bend until it snaps. Compost the ends of the asparagus.
Reprinted from Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019, Lazarus Lynch, Photography by Anisha Sisodia.