My love affair with Jamie Oliver cookbooks began shortly before I went to college, and was still going strong by the time I decided to spend a semester studying abroad at University College London. I was pretty excited about the challenge of dorm-room cooking: at Harvard, we had such weirdly fantastic dining halls that the only “cooking” anyone ever did was late-night Cup ‘O’ Noodles in our (probably illegal) in-room microwaves; at my new school, I’d heard, lots of students made use of the small kitchen in each building.
These small kitchens, mind you, weren’t exactly fabulously equipped. There might have been one or two old pots, a scary wooden spoon…and…that’s all I can recall. Maybe a beer bottle-opener? I’m certain there was one of those.
Above is my friend Tia (or part of her, anyway), sitting on the floor of my Camden dorm room in front of our weekly picnic, which was more often than not comprised of this potato salad, a bottle of wine, and…it looks like we have a pot of spaghetti and sauce sitting off to the side over there, but I can’t be sure.
And tea candles. (For atmosphere, you see…and to offset the wet pair of jeans hanging over my radiator.)
Anyway, this meal – inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe – was one of my favorites to make during that semester in London because it was incredibly fast and easy, cheap (less than $10 to feed two), required exactly one pot (which could then be eaten out of for minimal cleanup), and was nice and potato-heavy, and therefore perfect pre-(or post-) pub food.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE POTATO SALAD (serves 1 as an entree; 2 as an appetizer)
What you need:
4-5 smallish red potatoes, halved or cut into quarters depending on their size
1/2 avocado, diced
1 large handful sprouts (I used snow pea sprouts last night), chopped
1 cup peas (I use steam-in-bag)
1 cup diced grilled chicken or crumbled bacon (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
What you do:
1. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook potatoes until just fork tender. Drain and return to pot.
2. Throw in your diced avocado, sprouts, peas, and meat, if using.
3. Squeeze over fresh lemon juice, and drizzle over olive oil. Toss with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
(I like this salad meatless, but as shown above you can also add diced grilled chicken or crumbled bacon for a little extra heartiness.)