- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Spain is the darling of the food world at present, and the experiments of a bold cast of innovative chefs working out of upscale restaurants grab the headlines.

Yet throughout the country, you’ll still find the healthy simplicity of Spain’s traditional Mediterranean food and the good things cooked in home kitchens.

Regional variations give this basic cuisine distinctive flavors. Here’s a hearty potato salad based on the flavors of the southern province of Andalusia, an ensalada Andaluz created by food writer and Mediterranean food specialist Joyce Goldstein.

This potato salad, made with orange segments, spinach, toasted almonds and a tomato-citrus vinaigrette, is very different from those bound with mayonnaise-based dressings. Andalusia was known as Al-Andaluz when it was ruled by the Moors (Muslim Arabs and Berbers) from the eighth to the 15th century.

Andalusian cuisine still includes influences from that period, combined with its own produce: fragrant spices, herbs, almonds, citrus fruits, rose water and sherry.

However, the ingredients for the exotic-sounding ensalada Andaluz turn out to be mostly pantry staples. Serve the dish as a refreshing side salad, or perhaps for lunch with a sandwich.

Potatoes, which here serve as a “canvas” and balance for the stronger flavors of tart oranges and spinach, absorb spices and flavorings like few other ingredients, Miss Goldstein says. “You’ll find potatoes in every culture because they are versatile, economic, nutritious and, of course, delicious.”

Miss Goldstein developed this recipe for Associated Press, courtesy United States Potato Board. Her latest book is “Antipasti: Fabulous Appetizers and Small Plates” (Chronicle).

Ensalada Andaluz (Potato-orange-spinach salad)

The preparation time is 25 minutes, and the cooking time is 20 to 45 minutes, depending how potatoes are cooked.

TOMATO VINAIGRETTE:

1 cup mild olive oil

½ cup diced plum tomatoes (canned are acceptable)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

Salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: sugar if tomatoes are too acidic

2 tablespoons tomato puree

FOR SALAD:

8 cups spinach leaves, well washed

6 very small red potatoes (about 8 to 10 ounces), roasted or boiled and then sliced

1 cup celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

½ cup finely diced red onion

Segments of 4 oranges (about 32 pieces) minus peel, pith and membrane

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Toss the spinach leaves with some of the vinaigrette and place them on salad plates.

Dress the rest of the ingredients with some of the remaining vinaigrette (there may be some vinaigrette left over, depending on how heavily you like to dress your salads) and place atop the spinach. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (2 tablespoons dressing per serving): 218 cal., 6 g pro., 24 g carbo., 13 g total fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg chol., 51 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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