For some reason, The Goddess has been thinking about potato salad. Maybe it’s working in the garden or the too early summer weather we had last week…who knows what brings these thoughts to the surface? But this week, The Goddess will share a few potato salad offerings… My mother made fantastic potato salad. She was known for it. That was always the request when there was food needed for a pot luck dinner. She never seemed to tire of the request and perhaps it was because my father loved her potato salad. We all did, but this is not her potato salad. That will come later…patience, friends.
This version, is really more European, in general, but it has the things the French love to put with potatoes. It is best served slightly warm or at room temperature. It can be served cold too, but The Goddess thinks the flavors are best when it’s just a slightly warm. You can make it ahead, then let it come to room temperature. Because of the mustard and vinegar in the dressing, this is good for a picnic, as it’s less finicky about temperature than mayonnaise-based salads.
In this version, I used the Lavender and Lemon Vinaigrette for Sunday’s post, which is very similar to the mustard vinaigrette given here. The method is a bit different and I increased the tarragon a bit, but otherwise I left it alone. The Goddess enjoys lavender and she positively adores purple, the color of those spectacular semi-precious baubles, amethysts. But, that’s another story.
You may leave the skins on the potatoes, as I did, though I would imagine the French would peel the potatoes. Again, it’s up to you. This is a nice change of pace from the more traditional American-style potato salad.
French Potato Salad
- 2 lbs small white or Yukon Gold potatoes
- Water or broth to cover
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (about 15) blanched green beans
- 1/2 cup very finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives (not canned variety)
- 6-8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (using part lemon oil adds a nice twist)
- 1 shallot, finely minced (or 2 tablespoons dried shallots reconstituted with water)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, coarsely ground
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 – 25 minutes (depends on the size of the potatoes). Drain, let cool slightly until you can handle the potatoes, then cut into slices and season with salt; place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients, except the olives.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the vinaigrette. Place the oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic; cook, swirling the mixture occasionally for about 1-2 minutes. You just want the “rawness” of the garlic to be removed, not to brown it. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining dressing ingredients; slowly pour the hot oil mixture into the dressing, whisking like a mad Goddess, until it comes together. Immediately pour over the potato mixture, tossing gently to combine. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature, adding the olives just before serving.
COOK’S NOTE: I think this is best made a couple of hours ahead (to allow the flavors to meld) and left a room temperature. If you refrigerate the salad (you can make this the day before, but don’t add the green beans until you’re serving—the acid makes they lose their bright green color), remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so the oil will return to room temp. You may served this salad chilled, but I think the flavors are better realized when warm or at room temperature. Also, I add 3-4 teaspoon chicken stock base to the water I cook the potatoes in. Instead of tarragon, you may use basil, mint or thyme and you may wish to add 1/2 teaspoon lavender flower buds.
French Potato Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
This is incredibly easy. You can make the dressing a couple of days ahead and pop it in the fridge; it’s a good basic, vinaigrette for any salad, really. You can blanch the beans ahead of time and chill them. Once you boil the potatoes, the salad goes together very quickly.
One thing to remember, anytime you use a green vegetable like green beans, peas, asparagus, etc., if you expose them to an acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, the vegetables will lose their bright green color and become more gray-green. The flavor is unaffected and is probably even better, because the vegetables will have absorbed flavor from the dressing, but the color will be compromised. That’s why I usually add the green “stuff” just before serving.
I served this with some of the reheated, leftover chicken, from the weekend. I reheated (in the microwave) some of the pan juices mixed with a nice big pinch of Herbes de Provence, then drizzled that over the chicken. It was delicious, as the sauce on the chicken played to the flavors in the potato salad, a marriage made in heaven!