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Potato Salad with a Twist

September 14, 2011

Potato salad is potato salad, no?  What kind of twist could there be?

I’ve always been a huge fan of potatoes.  What a great root vegetable.  Full of flavor and it’s something you can prepare so many different ways.  I’m partial to mashed potatoes myself.  If I go to a restaurant and order a dish where the side served with the dish isn’t mashed potatoes, and it turns out that they actually have mashed potatoes on their menu,  I will always ask to substitute for mashed potatoes.  And who can really say no to french fries?  I especially like the ones that golden and crunchy on the outside and still smooth and creamy on the inside..  I also like potato hash, baked potatoes, hash browns and many other forms of potatoes.

But one thing I never ate was potato salad.  I guess I never saw it made in a form that I’d actually eat because every time I saw potato salad, it was always made with a mayonnaise-based dressing.  While I will tolerate mayonnaise on my sandwiches, I don’t particularly like it.  And I certainly don’t like it in gobs coating my potatoes.  Something about that is just really unappealing to me.  Besides, my husband hates mayonnaise (he’s willing to tolerate Miracle Whip) so he’d never touch potato salad either.

Then, one day, I discovered a different twist on potato salad and I had to give it a try for myself to see if it was something my husband and I would actually eat.  I was watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network with Ina Garten and saw her making what she called “French Potato Salad”.  While I do watch Ina’s show, I don’t often get inspiration from her show because she loves mayonnaise and tends to use it constantly to make all sorts of sauces (and besides, she hates cilantro and loves parsley.  Who hates cilantro?!?!).  But that episode I saw must have been an aberration because I think it’s the one time I’ve seen her make some sort of dressing or sauce that didn’t involve mayonnaise.  She talked about how she had this alternative to potato salad made with mayonnaise and how she had seen it made this way during a trip to Paris and had thought that this really showcased the natural starch-y flavors of the potato rather than masking it behind a heavy dressing.  Once I saw her make the dish, I thought that it looked simple and easy enough and yet flavorful and something that would be a good side dish to a meal without being overly heavy.

At its core, this is a potato salad that is tossed in a light vinaigrette and served with a lot of fresh herbs.  In Ina’s show, she started out with both small red potatoes and small white potatoes.  Both times I’ve made this, I’ve done it with just red potatoes and they weren’t necessarily that small.  In the end, just use whatever you can get your hands on, and then cut it down to the size you want.  Just throw the potatoes into a pot of boiling salted water and let them cook until just tender.  Take the potatoes out of the pot and drain them in a colander.  Place a dish towel over the colander to allow the potatoes to continue to steam.  Once the potatoes have steamed and now are cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into halves or quarters (depending on the size of your potatoes) and place them into a bowl.  Toss them gently with a couple of tablespoons of dry white wine and chicken stock (home-made is best if you have some) and allow the liquid to soak into the warm potatoes.

Next, work on the vinaigrette.  It’s really like making any other vinaigrette.  Start with vinegar (Ina recommended champagne vinegar – but I only had on hand a combo of rice wine and apple cider vinegar), combine it with some dijon mustard to help emulsify the mixture, add salt and pepper and then slowly add in some olive oil until you have a nice vinaigrette.  Add the vinaigrette you made to your potatoes which have soaked up the chicken stock/white wine combo and toss gently.  Then chop up some fresh dill, parsley and basil along with chopped green onions and some more salt and pepper to taste.  Your french potato salad is done!  It’s probably best to serve the potato salad warm.

It’s a nice, relatively light, and refreshing way to enjoy potatoes and its a new spin on potato salad.  I’ve made this dish a couple of times as a side to a heavy meal (bbq beef brisket) and a lighter meal (grilled salmon) and it’s been perfect both times.  It’s sure to be a winner at your house too!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    September 14, 2011 2:22 pm

    This is so pretty. I don’t really like potatoes, but I feel like I would want to make this just for the attractiveness factor.

    • September 14, 2011 2:59 pm

      You don’t like potatoes?!?! Why, oh why? I love potatoes, so creamy and rich. But yes, full of starch! But give me some creamy, garlic mashed potatoes and I’d be a happy camper!

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