Welcome to August, the hottest month in Northern California. This Potato, Spring Vegetable, and Bacon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette is refreshing and delicious! It is an interesting interpretation of potato salad and a delightful favorite of mine. No mayonnaise here, it has an invigorating and bright lemon vinaigrette dressing!
When thinking about today’s recipe I knew I wanted to create something that could be put together fairly quickly and that would be refreshing on hot summer evenings. I love a dish known as a French potato salad, a combination of cooked potatoes and tiny green beans tossed with a French vinaigrette. This was in the back of my head when I hit the farmer’s market looking for the freshest ingredients.
I stopped in my tracks when I saw the gorgeous radishes. Whoa! Those would add beautiful color and a peppery flavor that would enhance the potatoes. Combined with the fresh peas, asparagus, and fresh lemon thyme in my garden, and we have the beginnings of a great salad!
The next thing that caught my eye were bags of adorable mini red, yellow, and blue potatoes! Using these instead of regular Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes gives this salad more interest and takes it to the level of a main course option. If you are looking for a vegetarian dish for picnics, potlucks, family reunions, or dinner parties, this is a winner any time of the year.
If you have never cooked fresh peas, you are in for a treat. They are a lot of fun to “unzip” the pods ~ perfect for your kids to help with. Pinch the flowering end and pull it back, removing the string with it. This opens up the pod and then just poke your thumb inside, pushing the peas out with one stroke. You will get about 1 cup of peas for each pound of pea pods.
And don’t throw the pods away. Rinse them and use them with other vegetable trimmings to make vegetable stock! Every time you are cooking, save all the veggie scraps and store them in a bag in the freezer. When you have a lot, put them all in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until you have a flavorful stock. Strain out the solids, cool the broth, and freeze it in plastic bags laid flat on a baking sheet. Voila! Vegetable stock in easy-to-stack bags!
I came home from the farmer’s market laden with beautiful vegetables and put this together in less than an hour. It is easy to make it and you can take a couple of shortcuts (like using frozen peas and prepared salad dressing) that will take the prep time down to under 30 minutes!!
The lemon vinaigrette is one of my favorites and the perfect accompaniment to delicately flavored ingredients. You can add shallots, garlic, or fresh herbs of your choosing to change it for another meal. It adds just the right brightness to take this salad from ordinary to sublime!
The bacon was a last minute decision, but isn’t everything better with bacon?! Actually, the small bites of salty goodness really balanced the flavors and rounds everything out. I used a high quality gluten-free bacon with a lot of smokiness. The perfect accent to finish off this salad. If you want a vegetarian or vegan salad, leave out the bacon – but bump up the salt a touch to compensate.
I know you are going to love the fresh, bright flavor and colors of this potato, spring vegetable, and bacon salad. It would be a perfect addition to your summertime picnics because it can be made ahead and served at room temperature – if made ahead, sprinkle the bacon over the top just before serving.
Have fun and enjoy the wonderful summer weather my friends!
How to make Potato, Spring Vegetable and Bacon Salad:
- Cook the peas, asparagus, and potatoes
- Toss together with the shallots, radishes, and thyme
- Cook and add the chopped bacon
- Make the vinaigrette and toss with the salad
I can’t find fresh peas at the market; can I use frozen instead?
Absolutely. I use frozen when peas aren’t in season. Just be sure to follow the directions for shorter cook time to keep them from getting mushy.
Using fresh thyme in this recipe makes a huge difference in flavor. Buy fresh if at all possible and strip the leaves off the tough stems. The leaves give fresh bursts of flavor in every bite, waking up your tongue!
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Fresh or frozen peas
- Fresh asparagus
- Red, blue, and Yukon Gold miniature potatoes
- Chopped bacon
- Fresh lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
Tools I Use to Make This Recipe
This salad is naturally gluten-free if you use all fresh ingredients and buy gluten-free bacon. Beware of prepared salad dressings; they often have hidden sources of gluten.
- 2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas (from about 2 lb peas in pods)
- 1 cup chopped fresh asparagus
- 2 cups miniature red, white and blue potatoes, cut into quarters
- 1/2 large shallot, peeled and minced
- 4 to 5 radishes, trimmed and chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped bacon (gluten-free if needed; leave out for vegetarian/vegan)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Prepare the Salad: Pour the shelled peas into a saucepan and cover with well salted water. Bring to a low boil and cook until the peas are tender but still have a little bite to them, about 5 to 10 minutes. If you are using frozen peas, bring water to a boil and cook 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peas to a large bowl and set aside. Add the asparagus to the same hot water and cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to transfer to the same bowl as the peas.
Empty the saucepan and refill with fresh water. Add the potatoes and a healthy amount of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 8 to 10 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the size of the potato cubes. Cook until a sharp knife pierces the potatoes easily. Drain and add potatoes to the peas and asparagus. Add the shallots, radishes and thyme and toss to combine.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp and browned. Transfer to a paper towel-covered plate to drain thoroughly. Add to the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
Make the Vinaigrette: Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Put the lid on the jar and shake hard until it emulsifies. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Pour 2 to 3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over the top of the salad and toss until everything is evenly coated with the dressing. Add more dressing if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to several days.
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