I've tried many potato salads, but this one is by far the best. I'm not the biggest fan of mayo in potato salad (am I alone out there?) so I love (and appreciate) this recipe with its olive-oil based vinaigrette, courtesy of Ina Garten.
Ina is my inspiration when it comes to food and I credit her with helping me transform my culinary repertoire. I grew up on frozen foods (blintzes, fish sticks), iceberg lettuce, and spaghetti which was served (hold on to your hats)…with ketchup! My parents, to their credit, always made sure we had family dinner, every single night. But the task of preparing fresh, delicious meals required more time than they had. They worked full-time jobs and had to juggle responsibilities. I also think our dinners were symptomatic of "the times."
Back in the 80's and early 90's, the variety of heirloom tomatoes and leafy greens that I can now buy ay my local markets (or through my CSA) was much more difficult to find. The recent explosion of greenmarkets has made cooking with farm-fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients much easier…and there’s better access.
By the time I started graduate school in New Orleans, I (still) only had two spices on my rack: salt and pepper. And I was a student, so cheap eats is what I did for lunch and dinner on most nights. When I moved back to New York, I worked so many hours and I never had time to cook; I ordered take-out for almost every single meal. Maybe on a handful of occasions I took down my (one) pot or pan, but I was hardly a balabusta!
Then I got married (cookware, finally!), pregnant, and joined a CSA. I started paying attention to what I was putting into my body. I began downloading recipes from various food blogs and preparing dishes from highly recommended cookbooks. I bought fresh herbs and spices. And then, after I gave birth and when the baby was sleeping, I would turn on the Food Network and watch "my stories"—Ina’s Barefoot Contessa in the afternoon and again in the early evening. I became obsessed...in a good sort of way.
Now I cook most meals at home and I have two incredible taste-testers who anxiously wait to try everything that comes out of the kitchen. I make a lot of Ina's recipes and here is one more.
The key to this dish is fresh herbs which, thankfully, I keep getting from my CSA.
French Potato Salad (Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
• 1 pound small white boiling potatoes
• 1 pound small red boiling potatoes
• 2 tablespoons good dry white wine (I always keep cooking wine on hand, but if you don't have any you can add an extra tablespoon of stock)
• 2 tablespoons vegetable stock
• 3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar (I have also used 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar)
• 1/2- 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I tend to put about 3/4 teaspoon)
• 3/4- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon and then adjust to taste.
• 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Start with 1/2 and then adjust to taste.
• 7-8 tablespoons good olive oil (the original recipe calls for 10, but I think that's unnecessary.)
• 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
• 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
Drop the white and red potatoes (cut in half) into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut them into quarters and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and vegetable stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, with more salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.