Asparagus and Potato Salad


A tarragon vinaigrette, as opposed to mayonnaise, dresses up this simple spring salad. It also makes it more portable, as there are no eggs to stop you from serving it at room temperature. Take care not to overcook the asparagus, especially if it is just-picked from a local farm. Truly fresh asparagus needs only a quick dip in boiling water, immediately followed by a rest in an ice-cold bath, to bring out its brightest green color.

1 pound fingerling or new potatoes, cut into uniform, bite-size pieces
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon
Juice and zest from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 teaspoon tarragon (or white wine) vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Serves 4 to 6

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover amply with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just tender enough to insert a knife in the center, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a colander and allow to drain for 5 minutes. Pour a few inches of water to the same pot, add 1/4 cup kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Add all the asparagus pieces except the tips. Cook for 1 minute, add the tips, and cook until asparagus is crisp-tender, 1 to 2 more minutes. Drain the asparagus and shock in a bowl of ice-cold, salted water. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the shallot, mustard, tarragon, lemon juice and zest, and vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and asparagus and toss gently to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature.