French Potato Salad Recipe – Potatoes No Longer Wearing White
The other night as my husband and I joked about how it was almost time to put away our white and the boys looked at us incredulously — as teenagers do so well – my thoughts turned to dinner and I suggested a potato salad which segued into some more joking about “white dressing” and I realized we were onto something. Silly conversations aside, the idea of a potato salad that was not wallowing in mayo was sounding really good. Perhaps I should have thought about that more in the middle of summer when it was hot and people actually worry about mayonnaise and heat, but to me that’s the time when a chilled classic with lots of mayo and hard boiled eggs tastes best. Now that the weather is cooling down it’s nice to have something that can be served anywhere between warm and room temperature. A vague recollection of “French” potato salad was trying desperately to break free from the jumbled food memories that live in my head, but it wasn’t quite making it so I simply pulled out my phone.
Sometimes I truly adore all the technology at my fingertips. I immediately found exactly what I wanted and quite possibly the suspect of my recollection, a recipe from Julia Child and Jacques Pépin – how could you go wrong with those two? It was a little fussier than I was up for and I didn’t have the exact ingredients, but it didn’t matter because what I did have was close enough. To me that is what makes a really outstanding recipe. It is not difficult, lends itself to endless variation and is as much a cooking lesson, as it is precise direction. Basically cooked potatoes tossed in vinaigrette with sautéed onions and fresh herbs, this snappy side dish is as tasty as it is quick and easy. And as long as I don’t go overboard with the herbs the kids go crazy for it, too. In fact after my latest rendition the youngest foodie insisted that we should have this “a lot more often.” An easy, delicious request I’d happily indulge…..as long as he reminds me.
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin
- 2 pounds waxy potatoes such as Yellow Finn, Yukon or any type of fingerling
- 1/2 cup or so extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions, cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic, mashed and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 tsp)
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon (or more) coarsely chopped fresh tarragon or basil
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- Scrub the potatoes and put them, whole, in a saucepan with water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook the potatoes gently until they are just tender and can be pierced with a sharp knife. Drain immediately and let cool slightly.
- Sauté the onions in two tablespoons of the oil for a minute or two until they are just soft and translucent. Add the garlic, toss to mix, and cook for just a few moments, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, herbs, salt and pepper until emulsified. Slice the potatoes while still warm, into pieces approximately ½” thick and cut the slices into halves or quarters depending on the size of your potatoes. Put them in a large mixing bowl, pour over the vinaigrette, add chives and the warm vegetables from the pan and gently fold all together, mixing well but not crushing the potatoes. Taste the salad and adjust seasonings as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.