I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in WC2 the weather has been beautiful for the last few days, so when I suggested sausages for dinner last night, mashed potatoes and onion gravy didn’t feel like quite the right accompaniment. I googled “side dishes” and trawled through the results for inspiration, and eventually decided on a potato salad with gherkins and coleslaw.
Potato salad and coleslaw are things you can easily buy in the shops, but they’re usually gloopy with too much mayonnaise, so I plumped for a halfway house, making the potato salad from scratch but buying the coleslaw from a local deli, in the best tradition of the lovely Nigella.
Potato salad can have just about anything you like in it – the only essential ingredient is the new potatoes. For this one I added a finely-chopped raw shallot with fresh parsley and a dressing made from equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar, with a dollop of Dijon mustard and a dollop of runny honey. I’d use a bit less vinegar than oil another time. Pour the ingredients together in a tumbler and whip them up with a fork into a paste, then pour that over the potatoes, shallot and parsley and stir.
Potato salad is nicest when it’s still slightly warm, so I made the salad first and then let it cool for just as long as it took to grill the sausages. We had a mixture of Toulouse and smoked sausages last night, but just use your favourites. Add a spoonful of coleslaw and a gherkin and you have a meatily flavoursome summer supper for almost no effort at all.
Since (mostly) giving up booze I have been experimenting to discover which soft drinks go best with different kinds of food. My most exciting finding so far is that ginger beer is an excellent substitute for dessert wine. The ideal non-alcoholic companion to this meal is, I think, a nice cloudy apple juice.
On this weekend’s menu: hot cross buns, Easter chocolate and the rest of the wedding cake tasters that we brought back from Dublin at the weekend. It’s a tough gig but someone’s gotta do it.