|Red Potatoes with Garlic Scapes in Chinese Bowl by Judith Lamb|
I don't own a grill, so my dinner table has seemed bereft of summer-type foods this season. To remedy the situation without investing in an outdoor cooking device that would only end up getting stolen, I decided to make potato salad, a quintessential summer dish if ever there was one.
I was going to make Russian potato salad today, to go along with the ribeyes I bought yesterday at the Farmer’s Market. I learned about Russian potato salad from a former co-worker, Tanya, who was from Georgia (not the one on Ray Charles' mind) and made the most delicious potato salad with fresh green peas, minced onion, diced carrots and lots of dill mixed in. It was so much better than “American" potato salad, I added it to my culinary repertoire. But my daughter doesn’t like mayonnaise, and the Bubbaville Food Lion doesn’t sell my preferred substitute -- fat-free sour cream -- (since losing 30 pounds earlier this year I didn't want to use the full-fat sour cream --and besides, I might need those calories for a margarita later), so I made French potato salad instead.
This is the potato salad I grew up eating. My father -- a Paris-born Norwegian with a disdain for the sort of culinary horrors that were foisted upon the American public during the 1960s -- would make "French" potato salad. For years that was the ur-potato salad as far as I was concerned. Creamy redskin potatoes tossed with a vinagery-garlicky dresssing and sprinkled with parsley -- I would have happily skipped hotdogs and corn-on-the-cob and all the other cookout standards if I could fill my plate with Daddy's potato salad.
I remember the first time I prepared what I thought was a faithful interpretation of my dad's recipe and served it to him, anticipating great praise. As it turned out, I actually had to solicit my father's feedback, and was told that I didn't get it quite right. At least I think that's what he actually said, but I heard, "it's not good enough," and so years went by before I attempted to make potato salad again.
Today's effort is good enough, in spite of not adhering 100% faithfully to the recipe I remember Dad using. And damn the olive oil in the dressing, I'm going to have that margarita, too! I have a lot of summering to catch up on....
(Oh, the third tao of the potato salad is my step-father's mother's version, a Pennsylvania Dutch interpretation with a hot, spicy, mustard-y dressing. I don't think it would pair well with my margarita, but maybe next week, with a beer and something sausage-y....)
French Potato Salad
- Boil 2 pounds redskin or other "waxy" potatoes, unpeeled, until just fork-tender. Drain.
- When cool enough to handle, skin the potatoes and slice. Place in large bowl.
- Whisk together:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper
1-2 cloves minced garlic
(Dip a potato slice in the dressing and taste, adjusting seasonings as necessary.)
- Pour dressing over warm potatoes. Toss with 2 Tbs. chopped parsley. Serve room temperature or chilled, but try not to eat your share right away!