New potatoes with pickled samphire and sorrel

Well, two months down and On the Side seems to be going pretty well. Fist bumps to everyone who’s bought it, plus Top Gun-style high and low fives to those who’s sent pictures of their food and positive feedback — it’s such a pleasure to see and hear of people actually cooking your recipes.

Given the sultry weather, I thought it appropriate to offer website readers a recipe from The Book, which should suit any al fresco eating (or perhaps more preferably, air-conditioned dining) that you’ve got planned. So here’s a kind of new potato salad that’s as much about the sharp citrus of sorrel leaves and salty, piquant punch of pickled samphire, as it is about the spuds.

Each recipe in the book includes suggestions on the page for others that it’d go well alongside. In this case: Tomato tonnato; Sherry cherry tomatoes; Roast Romano peppers; Honey, thyme and lime butter corn; and Kohlrabi remoulade. There’s also a Flavour Thesaurus style directory at the back, which suggests that new potatoes with pickled samphire and sorrel would be grand at barbecues, with cheese-based dishes like soufflés and omelettes, next to flakey white fish, squid and cuttlefish, smoked pink fish, rabbit, sweetbreads, bavette and onglet steaks … you get the idea.


(Oh, and if you like what you see, do consider grabbing a copy of On the Side: a sourcebook of inspiring side dishes, for 139 other recipes that are at least as good, and possibly even better.)

Don’t be tempted to mix the sorrel leaves with the potatoes before the spuds are cool, or too long before you intend to eat the dish, as they’ll dull in both colour and taste. The samphire pickling takes just a few minutes, though you could do this up to two days in advance (and if you do that, this becomes a 15–30 minute side).

If large sorrel leaves are not to hand, use heavy handfuls of fresh baby spinach or rocket, doused with lemon juice before being mixed through.

New potatoes with pickled samphire and sorrel

Serves 4–6

Pickled samphire

  • 70g samphire
  • 130ml white wine vinegar
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 500–600g new potatoes, such as Jersey Royals or Ratte, halved
  • 100g sorrel
  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To pickle the samphire, bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the samphire for 1 minute. Drain and cool under running water or in an ice bath, drain well again, then put the samphire in a jar or container with a lid into which it fits snugly.

Dry the saucepan, then add the vinegar, sugar and mustard seeds. Bring to a gentle simmer over a low-medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Let this cool for 15 minutes, then pour it over the samphire. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour before refrigerating until required (and for up to 2 days). When you need it, drain the samphire through a sieve, reserving the pickling liquor and mustard seeds.

To make the potato salad, put the potatoes in a medium-large pan and cover them with 2–3 times their volume of cold water. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender all the way through. Drain and rinse under running water until cool.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and add the pickled samphire, the mustard seeds from the pickling liquor and the sorrel leaves. Make a dressing by combining 2 tablespoons of the pickling liquor with the oil and plenty of black pepper. Pour this over the potatoes and toss. Check for seasoning and add salt if necessary, though remember the samphire provides occasional salty kicks.

* image is from On the Side, so photo credit to Joe Woodhouse.