2poundssmall yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 – 1 ½-inch chunks
1 1/2teaspoonsfine sea or kosher salt
8ouncesgreen beans, trimmed, cut crosswise into halves or thirds
6large eggs (preferably a week or two old for easier peeling)
1cupthinly sliced cucumber (preferably a middle-eastern variety)
1/2of a medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2/3cuppacked basil leaves
1/2cuppacked tarragon leaves
2garlic cloves, put through a press or minced
2teaspoonscapers, drained (or 1 anchovy for a non-vegetarian and more traditional option)
1/2teaspoonfine sea or kosher salt
3/4cupgood-quality mayonnaise, such as Spectrum Olive Oil (or homemade)
2tablespoonslemon juice (more if needed to taste)
Pickle the shallots:
In a small jar, combine the shallot, salt, and enough vinegar to barely cover the shallot. Put a lid on the jar and shake to dissolve the salt. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
Prepare the salad ingredients:
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cook until the potatoes are tender but still holding a shape, 8-12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the potatoes out of the water and drain, reserving the water. Let the potatoes cool completely (you can run them under cool water to speed this up).
Add the green beans to the boiling water and simmer until bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain the green beans (you can save the cooking liquid to use as vegetable stock if you like) and rinse them with cool water to stop the cooking (or put in an ice water bath).
Place the eggs in the now-empty saucepan and cover with an inch or two of cool water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5-6 minutes (5 if you like a softer yolk, 6 if you want the yolk a bit more firm but still custardy, as pictured here). Drain the eggs and add ice and cool water to the pot to stop the cooking. Let stand 10 minutes, then peel and rinse the eggs and cut into halves or quarters. The whites should be firm and the yolks should be slightly soft and custardy.
Make the dressing:
In a food processor, combine the herbs, garlic, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mayonnaise, and blend until just smooth. Blend in the lemon juice. Taste, adding more lemon or salt if you feel the dressing needs it. You will have about 1 cup.
Make the salad:
Place the cooled potatoes in a large bowl. Add the green beans, cucumber, fennel, 1/2 cup of the dressing, and a good grind of black pepper. Toss together gently to combine, then drain the pickled shallots (you can reserve the vinegar to use in other dressings) and toss them into the salad along with the chives, and more dressing if you like. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon or salt if you like. Toss the eggs into the salad or place them atop the salad when you serve it up.
Serve the salad right away, or chill for up to a day or two to meld the flavors. The salad looks prettiest freshly made when the dressing is bright green, but the flavor improves after a bit of time in the fridge.
Nutritional values are based on one of four large servings.