Last year, I bought this book called Vegetarian Cuisines of the World by Asha Khatau. The book, with a section each on most popular cuisines, has clearly been written for someone living in India. There are no silly instructions like "go to your nearest supermarket and find a carton of sour cream" or "now we need a pound of fresh raspberries". There are, no doubt, ingredients you need to hunt the grocery stores for but there are also helpful hints on what you can exclude or substitute. All of which makes it perfect for AWED.
So when DK announced AWED Italiano, I promptly turned to the Italian section and picked Balsamic Potato Salad. Why not a pasta or a pizza - my beloved staples? For as far as I am concerned, Balsamic Vinegar remains Italy's biggest contribution to the world. They have no right to call this sweet gem from Modena a vinegar. It's just in a class of its own!
Before you make the salad, make sour cream. You need 1/2 cup of thick yogurt - tying it in a cloth and leaving it to drain for an hour will help. Mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup fresh cream and 1 tbsp lemon juice. This will give you a bit more sour cream than you need for the salad but I am sure you can find other uses for it. I did!
Boil 300 gms baby potatoes until they are tender. Drain the potatoes and remove the skins. To make balsamic dressing whisk 1/2 cup sour cream with 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper until everything is blended into a coffee color paste. Stir in a finely chopped onion and 2 finely chopped celery sticks (reserve a bit of onion & celery for the garnish).
Add the dressing to the potatoes and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with reserved onions and celery and top with pine nuts if you have them. I didn't, but I had pistachios and they made a lovely match for the potatoes.