Put the potatoes into a generously sized pot, cover with cold water, add the teaspoon of salt and boil until just cooked. As soon as they’re cooked, add the beans to the same pan (making sure there is enough water to cover them) and cook for a further 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, halve 2 of the onions, thinly slice them and sauté in half the olive oil in a large pan until caramelized, stirring them every now and then.
Once the onions are ready, add the balsamic vinegar and cook to evaporate it off. Add two-thirds of the spinach to the same pan and cook it gently to wilt down. Tip the mixture on to a plate and put to one side to cool down.
Slice the remaining onion finely into rings (a mandolin grater is a good piece of equipment for doing this). Place in a colander sitting in a bowl and gently run cold water through it for 5 minutes to crisp the onion up and remove some of its raw flavour.
To make the dressing, finely grate
Segment the remaining lemons. Cut off their tops and bottoms. Stand them on a cut side on a board and, using a small sharp knife, cut the skin and rind off in downward slices. What you want to end up with is what looks like a peeled lemon with no pith attached, but you also need to make sure you haven’t removed too much flesh. Now hold the lemon in your hand over the bowl of dressing to collect the juices and carefully remove the segments by slicing into the centre of the lemon, cutting close to the membrane that separates each segment. Once you’ve removed all segments, squeeze any juice from the core into the dressing. Remove the pips from the segments.
Divide the cooked spinach mixture between 4 plates. Either serve the potatoes whole if they’re small enough, or slice them. Toss the potatoes with the beans, the raw spinach, half the red onion rings and half the dressing, then sit this on top of the spinach mixture. Scatter the lemon segments and remaining onion rings on top and finally drizzle over the remaining dressing and scatter over the sprouts or cress.
© 2005 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.