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Potato Salad with Fresh Herbs


When I conceived of this salad, I was living in Paris, nursing a killer craving for big American picnic food: fried chicken in Tupperware, carrot salad with raisins, tart lemonade with sprigs of fresh mint.

What I really, really wanted was potato salad. Mounds of it smothered unapologetically in Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

But this was Paris, and Hellmann’s was nowhere to be found (actually, it was but it cost you 12 euros at a specialty shop). As the hot, late July air blew through my French windows, making my own mayonnaise with raw eggs just so that I could tote my nice, dressed salad out to a sunny park sounded like tempting fate.

So I thought to dress my potatoes up with a super lemony vinaigrette, tossing in whatever else was in my kitchen that day (radishes and celery in my case). It turned out to be delicious.

I have made this salad many times over the years. Recently, I unearthed my original scribblings from France, hastily scrawled on supermarket circular. Only then did I realize how different the potato salad that I was making New York was from that one made on that warm Parisian day.

No matter. Whether you add this, or that, or not, you will have something wonderful to eat. Picnic-safe too.

What I make now:

Ingredients:

2 pounds of waxy red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and/or dill)

Basic Mustard Vinaigrette:

Juice of one lemon, which should be about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon of good grainy Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of heavily salted water. You should be able to easily pierce a cube with a paring knife when they are done. Drain the potatoes and let cool.

2. Make the vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the still warm potatoes (you might want to do this a little bit at a time to avoid dousing them in dressing — something that fat-and-salt-loving me has a hard time not doing). Add the fresh herbs and toss until everything is evenly incorporated.

What I made then:

Ingredients:

1 pound of small Yukon gold potatoes (peeled, quartered, boiled, and cooled)

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

4-5 small radishes, sliced very thin

2 minced shallots

2 tablespoons of minced fresh dill

Basic Mustard Vinaigrette:

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together. Using a wooden spoon to stir, smash some of the potatoes against the side of the bowl to create texture. Keep stirring until all ingredients are well incorporated. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Can be made a day in advance.

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