Tuna, Asparagus, New Potato SaladIt worries me to see a “salad” recipe that is this long and involved. But I wanted to try the “Tuna, Asparagus, and New Potato Salad with Chive Vinaigrette and Fried Capers,” from the April 2009 issue of Bön Appetit, when I saw it would include canned tuna, boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and fried capers (!). My discovery? The crunchy fried capers taste like a good (vegan) alternate for “bacon bits.” It’s true! This salad’s lovely green oniony dressing was a treat. Really, all the individual -- perhaps painstaking -- elements of the salad were good.

Instead of Champagne vinegar, I used white wine vinegar in my dressing. I also added 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper to the mix. I cooked 1 lb. of thin asparagus (why use thick?), cut into bite-size pieces. After boiling the asparagus, I removed them from the pot, then boiled the potatoes in that same water (why not?) for 13 minutes. To the dressed potatoes, I added 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. My tuna was Bumble Bee Tonno in Olive Oil. My young child enjoyed all that was pleasant about this salad, all its tastes and textures. It was nice.

RECIPE: treat yourself to a handsome composed salad (none of the effort is wasted)
PREP TIME: you could really stretch this out by prepping various components hours ahead of time
TASTE: enjoy asparagus, potatoes, crunchy radishes, eggs, and tuna decorated with a dressing that is bright with shallot goodness

Next time, I want to try another warm and comforting meal. I’ll cook “Pasta in Garlic-Almond Sauce,” from the April 2009 issue of Gourmet, along with “Classic Irish Soda Bread,” from the August 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below). Return to my site on Saturday, September 12, to witness my results.

Yields 1 loaf

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup cake flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add buttermilk and stir with fork until dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)

Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pan. Cut a cross shape into the top.

Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.