pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!
There’s a few instances of life-y things that I can count on one hand (hope you’re not expecting deep thoughts today):

The number of times in my adult existence that I’ve had a professional haircut (ditto for manicures and pedicures combined).

The number of times that I’ve visited New York City (’bout to change in September yesssss!).

The number of times I’ve bought a tie dyed/acid wash clothing item and regretted it (I can actually count that on NO HANDS, guys).

…And with the previous in mind, the number of times I’ve lingered over this Himalayan salt lamp purchase page (good air viiiiiiiibes).

Finally, the number of times I’ve really, truly, sincerely enjoyed a potato salad (LET’S DO THIS THING).

It’s hella obvious why a more typical potato salad is just not my scene. The texture is most definitely gloppy because the ratio of potatoes to mayonnaise is generally 1:1. There’s something wrong there. I’ve had a few vinaigrette-dressed versions that I could totally get behind, but I mean… filling 1/3 of my plate with potatoes at the hot-as-eff-in-July BBQ and washing it down with at least two beers (make mine a High Life, k thanks) is going to elicit some lethargy + all-out crankiness later on in the day (“But I’m TIRED.”). I want some vegetables. Some crunchy things. Something with water and vitamins.

So with this version, I started with seriously tender potatoes dug up from the garden. I filled out half of the salad with vegetables, grilled everything for texture, and dressed the whole mess in a tinkered up version of one of my favourite sauces. I love romesco because the ingredient list is fairly basic and it offers mucho flavour to anything you could possibly want to eat. Typically I would blitz it up in the food processor, but I went for a full on purée in the blender to achieve a creamier consistency. Once I had a batch made, I mixed a portion of it with a bit more oil for even coating and a touch of dijon mustard to evoke that traditional potato salad feel.

Then I went crazy with the add-ons: grilled mini zucchinis that I had picked up at a farm stand (some of them came with flowers attached!), the sweetest cherry tomatoes, garden green beans, olives, chives and grilled lemon. Basically all of the good things. Grilling a halved lemon is kind of my go-to fancy lady barbecue trick (you have those too, right?). The juices caramelize a bit and add just the right amount of lightly smoky acidity. Just baller on simple grilled vegetables or kale salads, but especially nice here because it thins the intensity of the romesco a bit. I kind of love this little mash up salad because it knocks out the veggie + the starch sides in one slick move.

And with that, I’ll raise a frosty High Life to you all from my heat wave-drenched nook of the world :) xo

pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!

Print the recipe here!
NOTES: If you don’t have access to a grill, roasting all of the vegetables in batches might be a nice approach (but maybe only if you have air conditioning/a crazy strong fan in your house…).

romesco sauce ingredients:
1 roasted red bell pepper, stems + seeds removed (use one from a jar if you feel it)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp tomato paste
big splash of sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of chili flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper

salad ingredients:
1 lb of small potatoes, scrubbed
1 big handful of green beans, trimmed
6-7 small zucchinis, or 2 regular ones, cut down the middle lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved
1/2 cup romesco
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of pine nuts (optional)
handful of olives
10 chives, rough chopped
salt + pepper

Make the romesco: combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high for a minute or so, until a creamy consistency is achieved. Check the sauce for seasoning, adjust, and scrape into a sealable container. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to help preserve the sauce a bit more. Place in the fridge or set aside if you’re using it right away.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover them with cold water. Put a lid on the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Bring the pot a boil and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes depending on the size of them. Place the beans into the pot in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the whole thing and return the potatoes to the pot. Run the green beans under cold water to avoid overcooking. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces once cool enough to handle and thread the pieces onto skewers. Coat the potatoes with a bit of the grapeseed oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat a grill to high. Toss the zucchini halves with a bit more of the oil and season them with salt and pepper. Place the potato skewers and zucchini halves on the grill. Place the grilled lemon, cut side down, onto the grates as well. Flip all of the vegetables once they start charring a bit, about 5-8 minutes total. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Cut the zucchini pieces into bite sized bits if necessary. Remove the grilled lemon from the grill as well.

Combine the romesco with the remaining oil and dijon mustard. Squeeze the grilled lemon into the romesco mixture and stir it up. Pour this mix on top of the potatoes and zucchini. Add the blanched beans, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, olives and chives. Squeeze the grilled lemon over top and season the whole mix with salt and pepper. Toss lightly to combine. Check the salad for seasoning and garnish the top with some extra chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  • Nat @ the Apple Diaries18/07/2013 - 7:27 am

    Amazing! I love the addition of olives in this recipe, they’re a great source of healthy fats and good for hormone balancing. I just wish I had seen this when I needed to use up my zucchinis!ReplyCancel

  • Emma Galloway18/07/2013 - 7:50 am

    Oh you lucky thing, freshly dug spuds are one of life’s greatest things. Loving reading about your summer salad as I sit here freezing my butt off with gloves on :-) xxReplyCancel

  • Kathryn18/07/2013 - 8:12 am

    Totally on-board with your feelings about potato salads(although I’m not sure I will ever forget the potato salad my ex-housemate made for a barbecue without realising that he had to cook the potatoes first…). Grilling the potatoes is a great start plus the kick of flavour from that romesco sauce. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley18/07/2013 - 8:14 am

    Umm, can I tell you how much I love your use of the word, “gloppy?” This is the potato salad of my dreams!! But, High Life? Yah…we’ll work on that when you’re out here. ;) The light in the kitchen table shot is spectacular!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar18/07/2013 - 8:17 am

    This looks totally dreamy!ReplyCancel

  • nicola lynde18/07/2013 - 9:39 am

    This looks awesome! As much as I love a good old bacon, cheddar, green onion classic, I love some of the sans mayo version too. Definitely pinning this for my next BBQ.ReplyCancel

  • Leah18/07/2013 - 10:28 am

    Yes to hating on conventional potato salad. There’s an interesting section in My Berlin Kitchen where Luisa Weiss discusses her hatred of all things mayonnaise-potato-salad. She then turns to a vinegar based German variety, finding herself relieved that her partner shares this preference. True love indeed. I’m happy for her, but this is still not my thing. Like you, I prefer a sauce based in oil.

    It’s funny that potato salad is such a staple, yet if you read food blogs, people seem to hate it! How is this possible? Either food blogs are just doing their own thing, or people are politely eating a ton of potato salad that they can’t stand.ReplyCancel

  • Michele18/07/2013 - 12:59 pm

    Just curious, did you never make any tie-dye purchases or did you never regret the purchases you made? Have fun in NYC!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright18/07/2013 - 1:02 pm

      Ahaha. Clarification! The tie dyed section of my closet is impressive–no regrets EVER. And thanks!ReplyCancel

  • dana18/07/2013 - 4:34 pm

    BEAUTIFUL! Love everything about this post – its simplicity, the stunning photographs and this gorgeous, gorgeous recipe. Must try this summer!ReplyCancel

  • Shanna18/07/2013 - 8:55 pm

    Your pictures seriously always blow me away. Gorgeous post.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen19/07/2013 - 6:32 am

    Romesco! I love it. Also I am totally with you on the professional haircuts thing. I like my hair to be long…and tend to just be able to get by on the occasional fringe trim. Also, this sounds a million times nicer than any potato salad I’ve ever had (looking at you, three-day-old supermarket delicatessen offering…)ReplyCancel

  • Jessen19/07/2013 - 7:31 am

    LOVE This! In the winter I usually make Roasted Potato Salads without the Glop.ReplyCancel

  • Harriet21/07/2013 - 6:03 am

    So many good things in this salad I don’t even know where to start! Romesco is frickin’ awesome, but I hadn’t thought to use it as a salad dressing before – genius! The mix of veggies, herbs and olives also looks divine!ReplyCancel

  • Blaine Arin23/07/2013 - 9:44 am

    I couldn’t be MORE with you on this potato salad situation – gimme more veg! Gorgeous post, thanks lady.ReplyCancel

  • JAY23/07/2013 - 6:33 pm

    Looks amazing! Zucchs are my favorite this summer!ReplyCancel

  • SouthernSpoonBelle24/07/2013 - 8:07 am

    I really dislike mayonnaise and ‘traditional’ potato salad, always looking for alternative recipes for spring/summer meals. This looks incredible, love all the veg, and romesco is amazing. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Shira25/07/2013 - 1:35 pm

    Gorgeous salad Laura! I am with you and gotta have something special to make me want to make (or eat) potato salad. Looks like we will be in NYC in the same month too – so looking forward to getting back. Happy summer to you!ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess, Grilled Potato, Lemon and Zucchini Salad […]ReplyCancel

  • Michelle York01/08/2013 - 10:49 am

    As a vegetarian for 35 years, I adore your blog. The photographs are gorgeous..the writing is so personal. The recipes are begging to be made. Thanks for all your efforts.ReplyCancel

  • jgBoston03/08/2013 - 9:50 pm

    Made this for a picnic potluck, though it wasn’t in a pretty container, it tasted fabulous and travels well. I only had a few olives and no chives, I’d include more next time. I don’t have a grill, but “grilled” the veg in a grill pan and it had a great char. I’d grill a few more lemons, some sliced to add to salad presentation.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle06/08/2013 - 11:10 pm

    Beautiful pics!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jess11/08/2013 - 4:25 am

    Just made this for dinner & it was amazing! Definitely going to be making a regular appearance on the dinner table. Made it with roast chicken and kumara as a side. Delish :) love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • […] a new recipe last night for a grilled vegetable salad with romesco dressing /sauce.  I first tasted romesco at one of my most favorite restaurants anywhere – […]ReplyCancel

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  • Elise Campbell06/11/2017 - 3:16 pm

    Made this last night and loved it :) Just wondering, how long does the romesco keep for? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura15/11/2017 - 5:16 pm

      Usually about 5-7 days covered in the refrigerator!ReplyCancel

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