Delicious new-potatoes have arrived. Here's how to serve them

Lilly Higgins: The new crop are here, and they’re delicious. So seize the moment

Herby new-potato salad: I’ve added pink pickled onions to finish this dish. Once you’ve made a big jar of these addictive slices you’ll realise they taste amazing with everything

Herby new-potato salad: I’ve added pink pickled onions to finish this dish. Once you’ve made a big jar of these addictive slices you’ll realise they taste amazing with everything

 

At my local farmers’ market last week a small handwritten sign shone like a beacon in a sea of tired root vegetables: “New potatoes”. There was a crate of the first of the crop, small, light skinned and still coated with earth. They only need a quick wash in a basin of water – no peeling potatoes for the next few months.

When we were growing up our uncle would always drop a bucket of freshly dug new potatoes to us, and we’d boil them and have them will salt, butter and a glass of milk. One of life’s simple pleasures and a celebration of seasonal food. I showed my own kids how to cut their potatoes and then leave a pat of butter on top to melt into a golden pool. It was a big hit.

Asparagus is another treat at this time of year. I recently saw an advert with a woman standing at a kitchen counter, large chopping knife in hand, about to cut through an entire bunch of asparagus. One of the loveliest ways to prepare asparagus is to gently bend each spear until it snaps. It will naturally break off at the woody stem, leaving you with the fresh, delicious part. A great job for kids to do, too.

This recipe only uses a little feta, so I like to marinate the remainder of it and dip into it over the following days, to add to salads and top brunch dishes. Put the remaining feta in a jar or lidded container with olive oil and some fresh herbs and keep in the fridge. Adding fennel seeds, chilli or cumin seeds also gives great flavour to the oil.

A tin of cooked puy lentils makes this salad more substantial and adds great texture and protein. Add a soft-boiled egg and some tuna to each bowl to create a gorgeous and indulgent Nicoise salad.

I’ve added pink pickled onions to finish this salad. Once you’ve made a big jar of these addictive slices you’ll realise they taste amazing with everything. In tuna sandwiches, on baked potatoes, with cheese on toast and even to top curries. They keep in the fridge for at least two weeks, the cloves giving a gorgeous spicy heat.

New-potato salad with greens and herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients
16 small new potatoes
1 bunch asparagus
1 handful baby spinach leaves
10g mint leaves
10g fresh dill
1tsp wholegrain mustard
2tbsp olive oil
Lemon juice
80g feta cheese

For the quick pickled onions
2 red onions
250ml warm water
1tbsp sugar
1½tsp salt
125ml cider vinegar
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
Beetroot slice (optional)

Method
First make the pickled onions, ideally the day before, as they improve with age. Put the warm water, sugar and salt in a large jar. Close the lid tightly and shake to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the vinegar, cloves and bay leaves. Slice the onions as thinly as possible and add to the jar. Add a slice of beetroot if you want an intensely pink colour.

Wash the potatoes and put in a large pan. Boil in salted water until just cooked and retaining their shape. Drain and return to the pan on the heat for a minute or two, to steam off any residual water.

Mix the mustard, olive oil and lemon juice in a salad bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes and gently coat them in the dressing while they’re still warm.

Bend each asparagus spear until it snaps. Add to a pan of bubbling water and simmer for two minutes, until just cooked. Drain under cold water and cut each spear into three. Add to the potatoes, along with the chopped dill, mint and spinach leaves.

Divide the salad between four bowls and crumble the feta over the top. Serve right away.