Potato salad is a great way to showcase ashitaba leaves. These healthful leaves, grown in Japan and Southeast Asia, are often dried, ground and taken as a dietary supplement. I grow my own ashitaba plants here in Southern California and I like to eat them fresh. The dark green leaves taste like spinach or sweet kale. But if you can’t find fresh ashitaba leaves, this potato salad is delicious without them. I like to use fingerling potatoes, but you can use small white new potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes instead. I prefer the French haricot vert variety of green bean, but American snap beans or pole beans will work as well. Apples give this salad a sweet dimension. I chose Fuji apples for their firm flesh, but almost any variety will do.
Health Benefits: The high vitamin B12 levels in ashitaba leaves boost energy and protect the heart and brain. Compounds unique to this species of plant, called chalcones, have anti-tumor, antibacterial, and wound-healing properties. The chlorophyll in ashitaba leaves and watercress purifies the blood, manages bacterial growth, detoxifies, and protects against certain cancers. Potatoes have vitamin B6 for energy and potassium which reduces the risk of osteoporosis and stroke.
1½ lbs. fingerling potatoes
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup cubed Fuji apple, skin on
¼ cup diced celery
½ cup young ashitaba leaves, torn into small pieces, plus extra for garnish
1 cup Watercress Dressing
1. Cube or slice the potatoes and simmer in salted, boiling water for 12–15 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain and cool.
2. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 5–6 minutes and then shock them in an ice bath to set the color.
3. Combine the potatoes, green beans, apples, celery, and ashitaba leaves, and toss with the dressing. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with the ashitaba leaves.